NORTHERN IRELAND RIOTS
Summer 1996 and I was covering the riots in Belfast and Derry. As I walked into the Bogside area, the night was lit by burning vehicles and petrol bombs. I saw a group of youths who had hijacked a bread delivery van. They were using the vehicles to form a barricade against the RUC. I was walking away after taking photographs when I heard running footsteps behind me, I didn’t turn round and just hoped they would run past. He didn’t. Instantly, my jacket was thrown open and I felt the shaft of a gun under my ribs. The masked face was screaming and swearing that I should take no more photographs. I agreed wholeheartedly that it was probably a good idea and walked off into the night to continue my shooting, without a gun.
My night remained eventful until 3am when I was forced through injury to leave the field of play. I was taking pictures of Nationalists petrol bombing a pub when a cry went up at the same time as the RUC and Army opened fire with plastic bullets. It wasn’t a case of ‘after you’, everyone tried to squeeze through the gap to the barricade. About last, I was suddenly aware of noise more than anything and as the, thankfully, low aimed bullet crumped against my ankle I hit the ground in less than majestic fashion.
I did try to carry on heroically but it was nipping a bit. I took the emergency aid on offer from an ITV team back at the hotel of ice and whiskey, both of which served their purpose separately. Timberland boots were my saviour, anything less I am assured would have cut my 100 metre dash time slightly.