Irish Republican News · November 11, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
No contempt charges seen despite IRA honour code

A spokesman for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry has said they are not considering contempt charges against Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness despite his refusal to name fellow IRA Volunteers in Derry on the day British soldiers killed 14 civil rights demonstrators in the city.

The Mid-Ulster MP yesterday declared at the end of his two days of evidence at the tribunal in Derry that he would rather die than reveal the names of IRA members.

He said: ``I am prepared to go to jail. I would rather die than destroy my code of honour to the IRA.''

The inquiry spokesman today said contempt proceedings against Mr McGuinness would not be necessary if the tribunal was successful by other means in identifying IRA members on Bloody Sunday.

``If this happens the question of asking Mr McGuinness for these names becomes redundant.''

Earlier this week, Mr McGuinness said the orders to the IRA Volunteers were ``very clear, and the orders were that under no circumstances whatsoever were they to engage with the British Army during the course of the civil rights protest. No one who was a member of the IRA was under any illusion whatsoever about that fact.

``The British Army know they were not fired on by the IRA; their military commanders know they were not fired on by the IRA; their political masters know that the British Army were not fired on by the IRA.''

During his testimony, McGuinness acknowledged that he rose to the rank of Officer Commanding of the Derry Brigade of the IRA in the aftermath of the Bloody Sunday killings.

Throughout his evidence, he insisted that the IRA had not fired a single shot or thrown any bombs at soldiers on Bloody Sunday. He also rejected allegations made by informer Paddy Ward that he had distributed component parts for nail bombs or planned to plant bombs.

``The orders were that under no circumstances whatsoever were they (IRA Volunteers) to engage with the British Army during the course of the civil rights protest,'' said McGuinness. ``I spoke with the command staff and all active Volunteers. I relayed the decision taken by the OC (Officer in Command).

He said spoke with the command staff and all active Volunteers, and that everyone accepted that there would be no engagement with the British Army during the course of the civil rights protest

He went on to explain that before the march was to take place he and another IRA Volunteer had collected IRA weapons and taken them to a `safe house' in the Bogside.

``Only two people had access to that dump,'' he said. ``I was one of the two. Even the OC did not know where the dump was. That is why I say there was no maverick action by IRA Volunteers that day.''

In spite of repeated attempts to have him do so, McGuinness refused to reveal details regarding the location of the dump. He told the inquiry he was bound by a code of honour and refused to answer on the grounds that he did not think it was relevant to the inquiry.

``I understand the need for the tribunal to have that information, but this is a deeply personal thing for me,'' McGuinness said. ``For me to give the location of these buildings would be a gross act of betrayal and I just cannot do it.''

He said the IRA were ``very angry and emotional'', but had concluded that any military engagement with the British Army would see us ``fall into a trap''.

``We felt, even though I still didn't know the full extent of what had happened, that with so many journalists and other media in Derry for the march, that we should let the world see what we know to be fact -- that the British Army had shot innocent civil rights marchers.''

Meanwhile, relatives of those killed and wounded on Bloody Sunday staged a protest against the media circus surrounding McGuinness's appearance.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said the families are frustrated and angry that the non-Irish media has virtually ignored the inquiry since it was announced almost six years ago.

``We have had extremely important evidence over the last 13 months,'' said Kelly, ``evidence from the killers... and there was very little interest from the media.

``It is starting to look like the Martin McGuinness inquiry and not the Bloody Sunday inquiry.''

He added that McGuinness had predicted to the families that this would happen.

Gerry Duddy, brother of Jackie Duddy -- the first and youngest of the 13 initial fatalities -- said the families were not objecting to the increased media presence but ``we believe they are giving undue attention to one single witness, Martin McGuinness, rather than giving equal attention to the families' call for truth and justice.

``This has absolutely nothing to do with Bloody Sunday 30 years ago,'' he said sharply, ``its about politics today.''

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2003 Irish Republican News