Irish Republican News · November 5, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Saville Inquiry circus

A media circus has descended on the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in Derry for the testimony of Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness.

The huge media presence which descended on Derry's Guildhall on the 390th day of the inquiry yesterday angered some of the victims, who felt the actions of the British troops in killings their loved ones were being overlooked in the sensation over McGuinness's past IRA activities.

McGuinness, a former senior member of the IRA and now a political representative, took his place for the past two days at the Saville Inquiry to help the families of those killed on Bloody Sunday discover the truth.

He told the inquiry he had become officer commanding of the IRA in Derry two weeks after Bloody Sunday, when British troops fired at civil rights demonstrators, killing 14.

He confirmed that no IRA members engaged militarily with the British soldiers on Bloody Sunday.

He pointed out that IRA snipers were as well-trained as those of the British Army. and that if the IRA had wanted to kill paratroopers on Bloody Sunday, it could have -- but it chose not to.

Today, as yesterday, he refused to disclose the locations of the IRA's command center and arms dump in the nationalist Bogside on Bloody Sunday.

He said that he was bound by the IRA's code or honour and felt it would be an act of betrayal to disclose the identity of the householders.

However, at the request of the Inquiry, he said he had approached people who had provided assistance to the IRA in January 1972, and they had asked him not to disclose the addresses.

``In my view their attitude is totally understandable,'' he told the Inquiry today. He believed that those who had provided the IRA with logistical support were open to prosecution by the authorities.

``Family members would be put at grave risk of attack by loyalist paramilitaries who have killed republicans and continue to target republicans,'' he said.

In response to badgering today by counsel for the British soldiers, Mr McGuinness pointed out that it was the British Ministry of Defence which had presented the greatest obstruction to the inquiry, and not former IRA Vounteers such as himself.

When questioned by Mr Edwin Glasgow, lawyer for many of the soldiers, about why he had initially not co-operated with the inquiry, Mr McGuinness said he still questioned whether the Saville Inquiry was truly independent.

``I accept that it is a distinguished tribunal, but I do not accept it is independent,'' said Mr McGuinness.

He said there was a lot of concern about the conduct of the tribunal among the families and victims -- but he added that it could still uncover the truth of the events of January 30, 1972.

``One of the important things that has happened over the course of the last 10 years is that a British prime minister came on the scene who decided to do things differently from any other British prime minister in history,'' said Mr McGuinness.

``So whilst I have expressed my reservations about the independence of this tribunal, that does not necessarily mean that I do not have confidence that this tribunal can get to the truth and finally clear up what has been a running sore.''

Earlier today, Mr McGuinness was accompanied by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams as he arrived at the Guildhall in Derry to continue his evidence.

Mr Adams said he was there in solidarity with the families and his party colleague Mr McGuinness.

He said: ``It (Bloody Sunday) was a watershed event in our recent history, not least for the families.''

He added that there had been many attempts to make out that the victims were guilty but Mr McGuinness`s evidence should refute this.

Mr Adams, commenting on yesterday`s events, spoke of ``the total absurdity of questions about the whereabouts of IRA dumps when clearly the weapons that were used were British Army weapons.

``The weapons which killed people were in the hands of British soldiers.''

He added that there should be no confusion about who had done the killing on Bloody Sunday.

``Everyone in the free world knows what happened here. It's up to the British state to own up.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News