Republican News · Thursday 5 October 1999

[An Phoblacht]

Derry tape damning against British Army

The publication last week of the transcript of a tape recording obtained by the IRA of conversations which took place in the Victoria RUC barracks, Derry, has confirmed that the British Army always knew it killed civilians during Bloody Sunday in Derry, 1972.

It also strongly supports the view that opening fire on demonstrators was planned beforehand.

The tape, originally played at a Sinn Fein Press Conference on Saturday, 15 September 1973 in Dublin, was conficated by gardai during the arrest of a republican and disappered from public view until last week.

Major questions remain as to why such vital evidence was subsequently suppressed for so many years. The role of the gardai and the 26 County authorities in all of this must be scrutinised.

A transcript of the tape-recording reveals that the process of cover-up and black propaganda around Bloody Sunday started within a few hours of the massacre.

Despite acknowledging amongst themselves that the British army killed ``the wrong people'', military personnel nevertheless briefed journalists later in the day that the first battalion of the Parachute Regiment had opened fire on the demonstrators in ``self-defence''

A voice on the tape is heard to say that General Ford, the British Army's Commander of Land Forces in the North and the nmost senior officer involved in the operation on the day, was ``lapping it up'', going on to say that ``he said it was the best thing he'd seen for a long time... Well done 1st Para he said , 24 million ... He said this is what should happen ... He said we're far too passive ... and I'll tell you later.''

Ford had, in the weeks before Bloody Sunday, been a vocal and enthusiastic advocate of a policy of shoot-to-kill in Derry, suggesting that riot ``ringleaders'' be selected for assassination by the British Army.

Max Hastings, then a BBC journalist, is also heard on the tape in conversation with either a soldier or a policeman and enquiring about the ``latest score''. Hastings says that he is in Belfast, but ``may have to come back to Derry if your soldiers carry on shooting people at such a remarkable rate'', to which the soldier/policeman responds; ``Ha ha ha, well yes. I'm from Belfast myself and I think it's a very good trend myself.

This new, damning, evidence of the British army's deliberate attempts to cover up the truth behind the events of 30 January 1972, and subsequently pervert the course of justice, must be taken into account by the Saville Inquiry when it re-convenes at the Guildhall in Derry on 13 November.

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