Gerald Donaghey - Unfinished Business drama goes online

A scene from the Gerald Donaghey - Unfinished Business performance. (0302MM18)
A scene from the Gerald Donaghey - Unfinished Business performance. (0302MM18)

A unique drama about the murder of Gerald Donaghey on Bloody Sunday is now available to watch online.

‘The Saville Inquiry and Gerald Donaghey - Unfinished Business’ was staged on Sunday in Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin as part of the programme of events to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1972 massacre.

Geraldine Doherty removing the 'nailbombs' from the mannequin at An Chult�rlann on Sunday. (0302MM17) Picture by Charlie McMenamin.

Geraldine Doherty removing the 'nailbombs' from the mannequin at An Chult�rlann on Sunday. (0302MM17) Picture by Charlie McMenamin.

It played to a packed attendance at An Chultúrlan and was filmed and has now been put online to make it available to a wider audience.

It focuses on the controversial clam that Gerald Donaghey had nailbombs in his pockets when he was shot. His family, and many others, have always disputed the claim and argued that the devices, which were later photograhed protruding from his pockets while his body lay in the back of a car, were planted by members of the security forces.

The performance mixed drama with transcripts from the Saville Inquiry to examine how Lord Saville reached his controversial judgement that Gerald Donaghey “probably” had nailbombs in his pockets when he was shot dead.

His family have always rejected claims that the teenager was carrying nailbombs on Bloody Sunday. Their denial has been supported by the testimonies given by eyewitnesses, both civilian and military, and by medical professionals who examined his body.

The organisers of the drama have said they wanted to show that while Lord Saville weighed the possibilities and reached the conclusion that the nailbombs had not been planted, he could have easily have come to the conclusion that they had.

The performance featured Lord Saville, played by Robin Percival, reading from his report, and three young people, playing various eyewitnesses, reading from their evidence to the inquiry. It was narrated by Eamonn McCann who offered alternative judgements based on the evidence given.

A mannequin dressed in clothes similar to those worn by Gerald, tight jeans and a close fitting denim jacket, was also on display and four mocked-up nailbombs, similar to those found on the teenager’s body, were put into the pockets of the clothes to illustrate how bulky they would have been. Testimonies from civilian witnesses who had been with Gerald on the march, Donncha MacFicheallaigh and his brother, Conal, and from Leo Young and Raymond Rogan, who searched Gerald for identification while attempting to take him to hospital. They all said that they were certain there were no nailbombs in his pockets.

Statements from several British soldiers, known to the inquiry as Private 135, Lance Corporal 150, and Lieutenant 145, who stopped the car containing Gerald’s body at Barrier 20 on Barrack Street, made no mention of nailbombs. Lance Corporal 150 in particular, who was ordered to drive the car to the battalion headquarters at Craigavon Bridge, said that he would have refused to get into the car if he had seen any nailbombs. At the point where the nailbombs were discovered, while the car was at the Bridge Camp close to Craigavon Bridge, one of the actors placed the nailbombs into the pockets of the mannequin onstage to symbolise the planting of the devices. Statements from RUC officers sergeant Vernon Carson and inspector Harry Dixon, the first to discover the devices, ten minutes after the car containing Gerald’s body arrived at the scene, were read at this stage.

Evidence from forensic scientists John Martin and Alan Hall, who examined the devices, confirmed that a bomb which was allegedly in the teenager’s jacket pocket when he was shot, was not damaged, despite the fact that the bullet which killed him passed through it.

The performance ended with Eamonn McCann deciding that it was more likely that the nailbombs had been planted.

Geraldine Doherty, niece of Gerald Donaghey, then came onto the stage and removed the nailbombs from the mannequin’s pockets. The performance can be viewed here