Review of Bloody Sunday Inquiry 2003

By the Troops Out Movement


The Bloody Sunday Inquiry, sitting in London, heard that in October 1971, former Britsh Prime Minister Edward Heath, instructed the British Army to carry out an assessment of the measures they would propose ``if they were instructed that the primary goal was to bring terrorism to an end at the earliest moment, without regard to the inconvenience to the civilian population''.

The minutes of the Cabinet Committee of Northern Ireland, GEN47, of 6th October 1971, record Heath as saying that the first priority should be to defeat the ``gunmen'' by military means and that the government ``would have to accept whatever political penalties were inevitable''.

In his statement to the Inquiry, Heath said that he did not know to what political penalties he was referring.


Soldier 151 admitted giving a false statement because ``we knew we had done something dreadfully wrong''. He told the Inquiry ``There were two RMP's (military police officers) in the interview room and I recall that I found the interview intimidating'', adding ``I was terrified of the RMP, they were a law unto themselves''.

Under cross examination, he sensationally admitted ``I did not write the statement myself. I just signed it at the end of the interview''.

PSNI chief, Hugh Orde described the Bloody Sunday Inquiry as ``a waste of money''. He said it was time to forget Bloody Sunday and other controversial past killings by the British Army and police.


Diary records from witness INQ179 - a former major in the Coldstream Guards - were read out to the Inquiry. INQ179 wrote in his diary on the day of Bloody Sunday that he was horrified by the Paras' actions, adding: ``Words cannot describe what a dreadful and ghastly regiment that is''.

The next day he wrote in his diary: ``There is something quite horrible in seeing young men shot down by totally undisciplined troops, who take pride and pleasure in this legalised murder. I saw the snatch squad of the Parachute Regiment (1st Battallion) bring in civilian prisoners - the way these savage, trained terrorists treated those civilians was beyond description.''


Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford said at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that he was unable to accept that those killed on Bloody Sunday were innocent.

Michael Mansfield QC, representing two of the victims, highlighted that legal representatives for the British Army had already indicated to the Inquiry that they believed those killed were innocent. But Col Wilford, who admitted that he had not been following the Inquiry's proceedings, said ``I have not been shown evidence that this is the case''.

Colonel Wilford was also questioned about how he managed to miss ``99%'' of the shootings carried out by his troops in the Bogside during Bloody Sunday. In his original statement to the Saville Inquiry, Wilford said that he only witnessed one soldier fire one shot.


A senior MI5 manager - `E' - giving evidence anonymously and from behind a curtain, told the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in London that she had, the previous week, read the statements of other officers scheduled to testify on the same topic.

She said: ``Council to the Inquiry agreed that we should be aware of each other's evidence, there were sort of no surprises ...''

An amazed Barry McDonald, for the Bloody Sunday families said: ``Say that again. Council to the Inquiry suggested that you read the statements ...?'' `E' replied: ``Well our legal advisors told us that it had been agreed that we could read the statements ...''

Seeking clarity, McDonald said: ``Do you mean your own council, council for the Security Services?'' `E' replied: ``No. Council to the Inquiry.''

Ensuring no confusion, McDonald again repeated in almost disbelief: ``Coucil to the Inquiry?'' `E' replied again: ``Yes''.

`E' was not pressed, unfortunately, on her apparent identification of council to the tribunal as ``our legal advisors.''


General Sir Michael Jackson, Britain's top soldier, faced allegations of having played a key role in a cover up of the Bloody Sunday killings.

Documents from 1972, apparently in his handwriting, gave what lawyers to the Bloody Sunday families insisted was an inaccurate account of the shootings.

Michael Mansfield QC, for two of the families, characterised one of the documents - a ``shot list'' - dated 31st January 1972, in Jackson's handwriting as a ``fabrication''.

It was signed by Major Edward Loden, commander of support company (the unit of the 1st Paras which inflicted all of the Bloody Sunday casualties). However, the body of the document was in a different handwriting, which the legal team representing most of the soldiers - including Jackson and Loden - agreed was Jackson's.


Soldier `P', a corporal in the Parachute regiment on the day of Bloody Sunday, said in his written evidence to the Saville Inquiry: ``I have no recollection of firing my weapon or of seeing or hearing others firing weapons''.

But in 1972, the witness made two statements. In the first, on the evening of Bloody Sunday, he claimed he fired eleven shots in Rossville Street, killing a gunman and a nail bomber and firing warning shots over the heads of a hostile crowd. In the second statement, two days later, he claimed he fired only nine shots.

Christopher Clarke QC, council to the Inquiry, told the witness that he and another soldier (Soldier `J') were the only candidates so far responsible for the shooting of Michael McDaid, William Nash, John Young and Hugh Gilmore. Soldier `P' denied the allegation.

Arthur Harvey QC, for the majority of the Bloody Sunday families, suggested that Soldier `P' did not hit a gunman with three shots, but shot three people who were taking cover behind the rubble barricade with one bullet each. The witness denied this.

``I suggest to you that you do not have any failure of memory, what you have is a failure of conscience'' Mr Harvey said. The witness denied this was the case.


The Bloody Sunday Inquiry broke for the summer recess.


The officer in charge of the platoon believed to be responsible for eleven of the fatal shootings on Bloody Sunday told the Saville Inquiry that he could not remember seeing any of his men open fire at targets.

Arthur Harvey QC, for the majority of the families, asked Lieutenant 119, who was commander of the seventeen members of the Anti-Tank Platoon in the Parachute regiment: ``The men that you were in charge of could well have killed eleven people and seriously wounded seven others; that is eighteen people in all within a space, that in truth and in fact, is not greatly different than the size of this courtroom. How effective have you been able to estimate your command and control of those men on January 30th 1972?''

Lieutenant 119 replied: ``I believe that in my own conduct and in the conduct of the NCO's who commanded the little groups, it was as it should be.''

Mr Harvey continued: ``After the Widgery Inquiry did you re-evaluate your command and control of your men?''

`119' answered: ``No, I did not.''

Mr Harvey said:'' Even though Lord Widgery came to a conclusion that your soldiers fired probably without justification and probably at a crowd that was fleeing from them in Glenfada Park and that they had fired, probably recklessly; you did not re-evaluate what you could have done to have avoided that situation arising as a commander?''

Lieutenant 119 answered: ``Not that I recall sir, I got on with my career.''


Soldier `F' who had previously acknowledged that he had shot three of those who were killed on Bloody Sunday, Michael Kelly, William McKinney and Patrick Doherty, admitted to having in fact, killed four.

Under intense questioning by Michael Mansfield QC, the reluctant Soldier `F' eventually was left with no credible alternative but to admit, for the first time, that he had killed 41-year-old Barney McGuigan, who had been waving a white handkerchief at the time, whilst going to the aid of the mortally wounded Patrick Doherty.

When asked by the barrister if he would admit shooting McGuigan to his wife and six children, who were sitting in the public gallery, soldier `F' said ``yes''.

The Inquiry was forced to adjourn for a while as Barney McGuigan's widow, Bridie, was led away in tears by her family, followed by distraught members of other victims' families.

At the end of the evidence, Mr Mansfield warned Soldier `F' that he had given perjured evidence to the Widgery Tribunal in 1972 and to the current Inquiry. He said the evidence now suggested that Soldier `F' had shot the men without justification - that is to say that he murdered them.

Soldier `F' said this was incorrect, insisting he only fired at bombers and gunmen.

Soldier `H' also gave evidence in October. A number of witnesses had previously given evidence to the Inquiry that 22-year-old Jim Wray was killed by a soldier at close range in Glenfada Park after being shot in the back.

Soldier `H' admitted shooting a youth after aiming at the centre of his back in Glenfada Park, but said this person had staggered away clutching his shoulder.

Lord Gifford QC, council for the Wray family, referred to claims by another paratrooper, Soldier 027, that Soldier `H' had fired from the hip at a range of twenty yards, killing one man and wounding another. Soldier 027 had said: ``He then moved forward and fired again, killing the wounded man.''

Soldier `H' fired twenty two shots on Bloody Sunday. He claimed that he fired nineteen of these at a gunman behind a frosted window in Glenfada Park. However, under questioning from Michael Mancfied QC, he conceded this incident could not have occurred in Glenfada Park.

Lord Widgery, in his report of the first Inquiry in 1972, rejected claims Soldier `H' had fired nineteen times at the same target. He said these shots were ``wholly unaccounted for''.

Seamus Treacy QC, council to some of the victims' relatives, accused Soldier `H' of being a systematic liar who had failed to account for the large number of shots he had fired on that day.

Mr Treacy put it to him: ``The reason that you have failed to account for those large number of shots is that you may well have killed and injured many other people on that day than you are admitting to.''

Soldier `H' dismissed the accusation.

Bloody Sunday soldier 203 admitted joining the UDA after Bloody Sunday.

Soldier150, who drove the car of Gerald Donaghy, said he did not see any nail bombs on the body and certainly would not have driven the car if there had been nail bombs on Mr Donaghy's body. ``I am sure if there had been a nail bomb or bombs in the man's pockets I would have seen them'' he said.


Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry about his knowledge of Bloody Sunday. Immediately, the British media were stirred into a reporting frenzy, displaying a desire for information on the proceedings not previously demonstrated.

Four, five and six minute reports replaced the one-liners on British television news. Column upon column and article after article appeared in the press.

A media scrum assembled at the Guildhall in Derry for Mr McGuinness' evidence, forcing exasperated family members to protest on the Guildhall steps.

``This has absolutely nothing to do with Bloody Sunday thirty years ago'' said a frustrated Gerry Duddy, brother of Jackie, the first and youngest of those murdered, ``it's about politics today.''


The Inquiry continues to hear evidence from IRA members present on the day.

As Fern Lane stated in the article ``Selective Interests - Bloody Sunday Inquiry'':

``Number of people killed and wounded by the British Army on Bloody Sunday: 28

``Number of people killed and wounded by the IRA on Bloody Sunday: 0''

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© 2004 Irish Republican News