Irish Republican News · September 25, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: General recalled as soldiers express Bloody Sunday `elation'
General recalled as soldiers express Bloody Sunday `elation'

The Bloody Sunday inquiry has continued this week with testimony from a series of former British soldiers who have shown no remorse for their killings on January 30, 1972. Today also saw news that their captain, now British Army General Mike Jackson, is to be recalled to explain discrepancies in his evidence.

Fourteen died when British soldiers opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Derry. A second inquiry into the killings is being led by Lord Saville after the original 1974 inquiry under Lord Widgery appeared to serve only as a whitewash.

On Monday, one British paratrooper identified only as `Soldier U' claimed that someone other than a British soldier killed Bloody Sunday victim John Young. Most of the soldiers have stuck to the claims that the victims were `gunmen' or `nailbombers'.

In his statement, U said: ``I also have the picture of the boy who had been shot in the head ingrained in my mind... I have seen dead bodies before that one, but that one was somehow different; I do not know why. He was so young and it seemed such a waste. In all honesty, I do not think now he was a gunman. I do not recall what I thought at the time. I think he just got caught up in it. I think someone shoved him out to throw some stones. I do not know who shot him or why or what he was doing.''

But `Soldier U' was delighted at the killings. In his statement, he added: ``I have been asked how I felt about the events of the day when it was over. Frankly, I felt elated. Everyone was on a high. We had been in, had engaged gunmen and had shot them.''

``That is how we honestly felt and I still believe, hand on heart, that we did a good job. When we got back to barracks, people all around were saying `well done'. It was like a mutual appreciation society.''

Under cross-examination, by Arthur Harvey QC, Soldier U told the inquiry that he never had ``the slightest interest'' in finding out who he had shot and killed on Bloody Sunday. He was asked by Harvey: ``Are you prepared to assist [the Saville inquiry] in trying to establish who the person was you shot dead that day?''

``I have to be honest?'' asked U. ``Yes, be honest,'' said Mr Harvey. ``I am not interested,'' replied the former soldier.

On Tuesday, the inquiry was told how one of the soldiers involved told journalist Toby Harnden during an interview that ``everyone killed on that day was guilty of at least riotous behaviour or at worst, out and out terrorism''.

In the 1972 interview, the soldier also went on to give his description of feelings of ``elation'' amongst himself and his colleagues after Bloody Sunday.

When questioned about that comment under intensive cross-examination, Soldier J, then a Lance Corporal in the Anti-Tank Platoon, denied making the comments, saying that Harnden had indulged in ``journalistic flair'' and had ``invented'' quotes.

It was pointed out by Harnden that these comments, closely reflected those of Soldier U.

Harvey suggested to Soldier J that he was not prepared to openly call Toby Harnden a liar ``because you are the liar and you know that''.

``If you have told the truth,'' said Harvey, ``could you explain why not one paratrooper from your group claims to have shot anyone at the barricade in Rossville Street - other than soldier F - where six people were killed; four of whom were probably killed by people who were in your company?

``Can you explain how, after they went into Glenfada Park, where you were, there were three bodies; behind them there was the body of Gerry McKinney, the body of Gerry Donaghy and not one soldier, you included, has given any evidence as to how those men died?

``Just across the road, quite literally a stone's throw, there was the body of Hugh Gilmore; there was the body of Barney McGuigan and behind him the body of Paddy Doherty. Can you explain, if you are interested in the truth and if the men you represent are interested in the truth, how not one soldier, including you, has described any circumstances which would justify the death of any of those men; can you explain that?

``How have you helped the truth of Bloody Sunday to come out?'' Harvey continued, ``When you were present, in touching distance, of men who killed at least ten people and you cannot explain the circumstances which would justify the killing of one of them; how is that if you want the truth to come out?''

``I do not know,'' responded Soldier J, ``but as far as I am concerned, the truth is that we were not going in there to fire the first rounds; we were accosted, attacked by a riotous mob and that was the truth that we wanted to come out.''

JACKSON RECALLED

  • British Army General Mike Jackson has been formally recalled to face further questioning by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

    Now the Chief of the General Staff of the British military, who appeared before the Saville Inquiry in London in April, is to be questioned about the contents of a second statement he submitted earlier this month.

    Jackson, who was a captain in the Parachute Regiment in 1972, was asked to make the second statement after it emerged he had written documents containing interviews with soldiers after the Bloody Sunday killings.

    He had previously denied he was involved in producing such documents.

    In submissions to the inquiry, Jackson has been accused by counsel to some of the families of producing a ``bogus'' army HQ report some days after Bloody Sunday, in an attempt to justify the number of rounds fired by the British army and the number of dead.

  • © 2003 Irish Republican News