Irish Republican News · October 3, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Bloody Sunday para admits killing four

A former British soldier yesterday admitted he was responsible for killing four civil rights demonstrators in Derry on Bloody Sunday.

Relatives of those killed have described yesterday's evidence as a major breakthrough in their quest for the truth.

It was a day of drama at Central Hall, London, as the former soldier, identified only as Soldier F, admitted that he shot teenager Michael Kelly, father-of-six Bernard McGuigan, newspaperman William McKinney and father-of-six, Patrick Doherty.

A lance corporal in the anti-tank platoon of the Parachute Regiment, Soldier F rose to the rank of Sergeant Major in the British Army in the years following the killings.

Throughout his evidence, Soldier F had maintained that he could remember little of the events of Bloody Sunday. But on the second day of his evidence yesterday, Soldier F was questioned at length by representatives of the other three victims. And as his evidence concluded he dramatically admitted killing four of the Bloody Sunday dead.

Counsel to the inquiry Christopher Clarke QC told the soldier: ``What is alleged in relation to each of those four people is that you shot them without justification, that is to say that you murdered them.''

The witness said that while he understood what Mr Clarke was saying, he did not accept the conclusion of murder. He has maintained a claim made in 1972 that he shot two nailbombers and a gunman.

Bernard McGuigan was shot in the back of the head as he waved a white handkerchief while attempting to assist the dying Patrick Doherty.

Michael Mansfield QC, for the family of Bernard McGuigan, showed the former soldier photographs of the terrible head injuries inflicted by his bullet.

As Soldier F admitted firing the fatal shot, Mr McGuigan's wife had to be helped from the chamber where she had been watching proceedings with her children.

Eilis McDermott QC, barrister for Patrick Doherty's family, yesterday accused soldier F of shooting Mr Doherty as if he were ``hunting him down like an animal''.

Michael Kelly was 17 years old when he was shot dead near a rubble barricade on Rossville Street on January 30, 1972. On Wednesday, his family finally got to see the British soldier responsible for his death.

John Kelly said he found the testimony of former paratrooper, identified as Soldier F, emotional.

``It is hard to put into words - I could not take my eyes off him,'' Mr Kelly said.

A bullet taken from his body was matched to the gun used by Soldier F that day. The bullet is one of only two found in the bodies of the Bloody Sunday victims.

Mr Kelly said 15 members of his extended family had travelled to London to see for the first time the man who had shot his brother dead.

``We were all looking out for each other. It was emotional,'' he said.

The former soldier later denied being involved in any conspiracy to ``cover up'' the shootings in and from Glenfada Park because he thought they would be difficult to explain.

Mr Clarke asked him: ``Is the reason why a true account fitting the known facts has never been given by the anti-tank platoon, that a true account would reveal that innocent civilians had been murdered or unlawfully killed and unlawfully wounded.''

Soldier F replied: ``No''.


  • Earlier this week, a former member of the IRA has told the Inquiry that he is prepared to make a statement regarding what the organisation was doing on Blody Sunday. The former volunteer told the Derry Journal earlier this week that he will tell the inquiry that he, along with other volunteers, were under orders ``not to engage the British Army but to observe the situation in case they tried to move in while the march was going on''.

    The man said that his decision to come forward was for the sake of the families. He said he had been ``thinking about this for months and listening to what people like Martin McGuinness was saying about republicans coming forward'' and had taken on board Lord Saville's comments that the failure of former volunteers to give evidence suggested that the IRA had something to hide.

    ``People want the truth about Bloody Sunday to come out and I feel that I have to come forward and tell what I know or else the Paras will get away with it for the second time,'' he stated.

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    © 2003 Irish Republican News