The claims of the informer Paddy Ward, who has been giving evidence to the Saville Inquiry, have been dismissed by Martin McGuinness as ``pure fantasy''.
Ward's allegation that the IRA planned a nail-bomb attack on Bloody Sunday and that parts for the nail bombs were distributed by Martin McGuinness on the day is also contradicted in the written statements of six former members of the Fianna and IRA who are due to give evidence to the inquiry when it returns to Derry at the end of this month.
Unlike most of the British soldiers who have given evidence, none of the six, Sean Keenan, Gearoid O hEara, Patsy Moore, Gerard Doherty, Eddie Dobbins, and Michael Clarke, have applied for anonymity or for screening when they appear before the inquiry. All unequivocally reject Ward's account.
The inquiry heard his claim that the alleged nail-bomb attack, planned to take place in Guildhall Square, was abandoned when he and other members of the Fianna realised that they could not get through the British Army barriers. He said that all the nail bombs were returned apart from those issued to Gerry Donaghy, who was photographed with four nail bombs in his pockets as he lay in the back of a vehicle stopped by the British Army and taken to Craigavon Bridge. There is a great deal of evidence, however, to suggest that the bombs were planted on Donaghy's body.
Ward, who was screened, claimed at the inquiry on Monday that he was OC of the Fianna in Derry at the time of Bloody Sunday, whereas Gearoid O hEara says that he has ``no recollection of Paddy Ward being on the scene. He was not in Fianna group and was certainly not the leader of it. I can categorically state that in the period leading up to 30 January 1972 Paddy Ward was not the OC of the Fianna.''
Ward also said that he later became a member of the IRA without having to go through any formal swearing-in process. He said that he simply found himself regarded as a member. In contrast, Martin McGuinness in his statement says: ``It has been suggested to me that Paddy Ward has said that a Fianna Volunteer was effectively a member of the IRA because it was possible to seamlessly graduate from the Fianna into the Republican Army. This is simply wrong.''
He also dismisses Ward's account of the training he received during his time in the Fianna - of being trained in the use of machine guns and other arms and in handling explosives - saying ``the Fianna were never used as part of an IRA operation. They certainly never handled weapons either for training or for storage purposes. The idea that someone who had just turned 16 would have had such a level of responsibility, such access to weapons and explosives, or the degree of experience and training claimed by Ward is ludicrous. Ward's claims are pure fantasy.''
Ward was questioned by Christopher Clarke QC about an interview he had given to Sunday Times journalist Liam Clarke in 2001, a partial transcript of which has been handed to the inquiry.
Christopher Clarke spent some time pointing out the numerous and significant mistakes Ward had made in the interview - names, dates, places, events and almost all of his account of his movements and actions on Bloody Sunday - mistakes Ward attempted to explain away by saying that he had talked to Liam Clarke without really thinking. In a lengthy and somewhat incoherent response, he said that ``the stuff we talked about was just off the cuff, there is a few misquotes and a few things I did say to Liam Clarke without giving any real thought because I had no idea he would print all of it; it was just in the comfort of my own home. I sat and had a chat with the guy ... It is mostly my own fault for basically talking off the cuff.''
He denied that he had been motivated to provide the evidence he had to the inquiry because of the shooting of his brother Willie by the IRA. ``There is no vendetta against anyone,'' he said.