Irish Republican News · December 10, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRA quartermaster denies arms used on Bloody Sunday

A former quartermaster in the mainstream IRA today described claims that Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness was armed on Bloody Sunday as ``ludicrous''.

Known to the inquiry as `PIRA17', the man who controlled the IRA's arms dumps in Derry at the time was commenting on journalist claims that he, Mr McGuinness and a third man planned to fire at troops in the Bogside area of Derry.

He told the Saville Inquiry that the story was the figment of someone's imagination.

``It is utter and complete rubbish,'' he said.

The former IRA man, giving evidence anonymously, described claims that Martin McGuinness carried a gun that day as impossible.

He said he had obeyed instructions by Mr McGuinness, then adjutant of the Derry Brigade, to store all weapons in a secure dump on the day of the march.

``It is ludicrous to suggest that Martin McGuinness had a weapon without my knowledge in my capacity as the quartermaster.''

``It is just not possible that Martin McGuinness had a weapon or explosives without my knowledge,'' he added.

Addressing the Inquiry and family and friends of the victims, he said he was in full charge of the IRA`s weapons that day.

``I bear full and absolute responsibility for the weapons in the central dump.

``I bear full and absolute responsibility for putting them in the central dump.

``I bear full and absolute responsibility for telling this tribunal and the relatives of those who were murdered that that dump remained intact,'' he said.

He denounced as a lie evidence given by a British paratrooper known as Soldier O, who said he came under the heaviest fire he had ever experienced in Ireland from the Rossville Flats area of the Bogside area on Bloody Sunday.

``What he says is untrue. To the best of my knowledge there was no fire from the Rossville Flats. I would have heard it as I was there,`''he said.

The witness, who is the first member of the IRA to apply for and be granted anonymity, said that the only weapons distributed that day were to active service units in the neighbouring Creggan and Brandywell areas.

``The two active service units were the only volunteers on duty. Any other volunteers were therefore free to go on the march if they wanted to.''

He said that when the IRA leadership began to realise that people had been killed and wounded the decision was taken not to open up the arms dump and return fire.

``The obvious reasons were that we thought the [British] Army was trying to bait us into a gun battle and we should not take the bait with so many innocent civilians still around.''

He also rejected claims that members of the IRA's youth wing had been given nail bombs for use on Bloody Sunday.

``I can say that if anybody had seen anybody else with nail bombs on that day, they would have been apprehended. There was no plan for military action that day. It was to be a dignified, peaceful protest.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News