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