Belfast Telegraph

Greysteel: For five or 10 seconds we stood stunned... there were bodies on the floor, bodies slumped on chairs, bodies across tables

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

The first paramedic to arrive at the Rising Sun bar just minutes after the massacre has told how being faced with the nightmare scene still haunts him 20 years later.

Adrian McAuley had just returned to base in his ambulance after attending another incident in Londonderry that night.

They arrived in Greysteel just nine minutes after receiving the first report of a shooting in the village.

"We were told there was a shooting at the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel but there was no other information about it," Mr McAuley told the Belfast Telegraph.

"Within minutes we had arrived at the bar. There were about 20 or 30 people outside who were unbelievably frantic.

"They were waving their arms, shouting, screaming, crying. We were starting to get a really bad feeling then."

Mr McAuley said he was ushered through a side door of the pub, where he was confronted by a scene of devastation.

"We were literally pushed inside and the door closed behind us," he said.

"For five or 10 seconds we just stood stunned by what we saw, absolutely stunned.

"There were bodies on the floor, bodies slumped on chairs, there were bodies across tables.

"Everywhere we looked there were bodies. I also remember the really strong smell of gunsmoke in the air, the sulphur. It was burning into our eyes.

"There were only two of us. What we needed then was more resources, more ambulances, more help – and fast.

"My partner got gloves, dressing and bandages and asked for volunteers.

"He gathered them up and told them what they had to do."

The men set about establishing the extent of the victims' injuries and prioritising them for transport to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry.

In total, the paramedics were in the bar for 28 minutes.

"It was a long, busy, frantic, stressful 28 minutes, I can assure you," said Mr McAuley.

All of the victims were taken to Altnagelvin. All available doctors and surgeons were called in to treat the injured.

Shortly after the shooting news of the murders filtered out across Northern Ireland. Serious rioting erupted in Derry with police coming under attack and responding with plastic baton rounds. Mr McAuley was tasked to attend the trouble within hours of the Greysteel massacre.

"It was a long, long night," he said. "I think it was 5am before we got any sort of break. We were just shattered, physically and mentally."

He added: "At that time shootings were nothing new to the emergency services, be it attacks on the security forces, so-called punishment shootings, or other attacks.

"But seeing it on that scale was something, personally, I had never seen before.

"You do see lots of horrendous scenarios in this job but you just try to deal with them as best you can.

"It does still affect me. Even on a simple level, driving down past the Rising Sun bar, I subconsciously tend to not want to look at it. But inevitably my eyes are drawn to it."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph