Suppressed Para's book cites 'Londonderry's Sharpeville'
The Bloody Sunday Inquiry
BY FERN LANE
Former British Army intelligence officer Colin Wallace continued to give evidence to the Bloody Sunday tribunal last week. He spent a total of four days in the witness box; longer than any other witness thus far.
He explained that after he had sent a dossier to the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, providing evidence of the 'dirty' war being fought in the north of Ireland, she was eventually forced to admit that her ministers had misled the House of Commons over his role when they had tried to discredit both him and the dossier. He told the inquiry that, given his experiences in relation to his role in PsyOps in the early 1970s, when the Army and government authorities had, in the words of Barry MacDonald QC, "concealed documents and suppressed evidence and information" he would not be surprised to learn that British Army and government officials had also suppressed documents relevant to Bloody Sunday.
Wallace was also questioned about the draft of a book, believed to have been written by an officer of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, a copy of which he had kept and which he believes had been deliberately withheld from the Saville inquiry by the Treasury Department. The draft, never published, was submitted to Wallace's department, the Information Policy Unit, for vetting.
In it, the soldier writes that a company captain heard of the "impending operation" on the Friday before Bloody Sunday. According to the soldier, he "came rushing excitedly into his office after the Commanding Officer's orders group. 'We are really going to have a go at them this time.' He then went on to describe, with considerable relish, how the hooligan element on the march was going to be 'dealt with'."
The account continues: "Later that day the captain briefly explained to his wife what the weekend's operations would be. He explained about Scoop Force, the Paras, and the gunmen. I can just see the headlines', she said 'Londonderry's Sharpeville'."
Wallace was asked by Barry MacDonald QC, counsel for some of bereaved: "When you read that, you must have realised that what this captain in a company in 1 Para had been briefed to do must have involved a plan to shoot civilians as in Sharpeville?" Wallace replied: "Certainly that was what he was writing".
On Monday, former British Army intelligence officer Maurice Tugwell, formerly a Colonel in the Information Policy unit admitted that the claims he made in an interview after Bloody Sunday that four of those killed were on a wanted list of IRA men were wrong. He said he had made the claims after "oral" intelligence checks.
He told the inquiry that "Later, I am not sure when, I discovered that the allegation that four men were on a wanted list could not be sustained." It was, he said, "an honest mistake".
During the radio interview Tugwell had claimed that, "One of the dead men was found in a car ... with four nail bombs in his pockets ... And of the others who are dead in the hospital, preliminary investigations show that four of them at least are on the wanted list."
"We have sent our investigators to the hospital and it is rather interesting that two of the wounded men, with gunshot wounds, have admitted that they were out on the streets armed with guns."
Speaking about the events of Bloody Sunday itself, at which he had in fact been present taking photographs of the marchers, Tugwell had told the interviewer that "Whilst they [the Paras] were on that operation, they came under fire, mainly from the area of the Rossville Flats, and there were altogether 25 shooting engagements, in 10 of which they could not identify the source of the fire and they did not fire back at all. In the other 15 they did identify and they fired back in all of them."
"On one occasion the soldier, who was armed with a riot gun which only fired rubber bullets, found himself facing a gunman with a pistol who fired two shots at him. All the bloke could do was to fire back with rubber bullets and then beat it. But on all the other occasions they fired back with live ammunition." All of this information, Tugwell admitted, came from 1 Para.
Bloody Sunday film scoops 54th 'Prix Italia'
Charles McDougall's film, Sunday, written by Jimmy McGovern and co-produced by Derry's Gaslight Productions in association with Box TV for Channel 4 Television last week won the coveted 'Prix Italia' award for 'Best Drama'.
On hearing the news, Jimmy McGovern said: "I am very pleased and proud on behalf of the people of Derry that the Prix Italia judges have awarded the prize to Sunday. I wanted to write a film that explained and showed the injustice of what happened on Bloody Sunday and in the weeks and months following - and I feel this prize is a recognition of that."
Established in 1948, Prix Italia is the oldest and most prestigious international broadcaster award granting body in the world.
Commenting on the winning film, they said: "Sunday proposes a human drama of great emotional impact, backed up by solid direction that sees beyond the specific conflict, to identify a value - justice - that is essential for co-existence and healthy relationships inside a constantly changing society, which is increasingly having to come to terms with the new and the different."
Speaking after receiving the award, Gaslight's Stephen Gargan said: "The jury's reading of 'Sunday' was for us as important as receiving the award itself. To resolve what happened on Bloody Sunday is to re-establish belief in justice, and it's this universal right which the film sought to portray."