‘I ri­oted, was asked to join IRA, and Martin McGuin­ness’s brother was my best friend’

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Gerry Hand

DERRYMAN Peter Casey took part in daily ri­ots with Bri­tish sol­diers, was best friends with Martin McGuin­ness’s brother in school – and had to crawl on his hands and knees to avoid be­ing shot on Bloody Sun­day.

He told the Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day: ‘On Bloody Sun­day it­self a cou­ple of my brothers, my par­ents and my­self were all on the march. I vividly re­call com­ing down past Roswell Street flats when the shoot­ing started... The whole lot of us crawled on our hands and knees over to the Bog­side where the MP, Ber­nadette Devlin, and the peer Lord Long­ford, were on the back of a lorry.’

He be­came in­volved in ri­ot­ing af­ter school. ‘It was like a badge of hon­our to be struck by a rub­ber bul­let and I still have a col­lec­tion of used ones,’ he said. One day he was stand­ing be­side an ar­moured car when the doors opened. ‘As soon as they did, I reached in and grabbed a packet of 12 rub­ber bul­lets.

‘When you were seen to be in­volved in ri­ot­ing it was al­most in­evitable you’d be ap­proached to join the Provos. A few months af­ter Bloody Sun­day I was asked would I con­sider join­ing Na Fianna, the ju­nior IRA. I re­fused solely be­cause I did not like the man who was do­ing the re­cruit­ing,’ he said.

‘My best friend all the way through sec­ondary school was Martin McGuin­ness’s brother, De­clan, and we are still good friends.

For all my time in pri­mary school I sat be­side Patsy O’Hara, who later joined the INLA and died on hunger strike in 1981.’

‘I’m not just a na­tion­al­ist at heart, I am a na­tion­al­ist and a repub­li­can with all of my be­ing. I be­lieve that, in my life­time, we will have a united Ire­land. It may even hap­pen by de­fault: Brexit will open a lot of back doors.

‘There won’t ever be a hard border again. I’m not sure there ever re­ally was one. I mean, the Gar­daí, the B Spe­cials, the RUC and 50,000 Bri­tish sol­diers couldn’t en­force it, so it’s not go­ing to hap­pen now.’

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