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Bloody Innocents

Bloody Sunday victims must be declared innocent, says McGuinness - Times Online

The picture of McGuiness with a luger they didn't use to illustrate the story.

Lord Saville of Newdigate's tribunal was told that Mr McGuinness, Sinn Fein MP and the party's chief negotiator, had admitted opening fire with a Thompson sub-machine gun "precipitating" the killing of the civilians by British Army paratroopers in Londonderry.
Mr McGuinness has so far refused to co-operate with the inquiry, which was told that he was reputedly the commander of the Provisional IRA in the city at the time of the shooting on 30 January 1972.
Mr McGuinness is seeking legal advice on whether to give evidence. He said the shooting claims against him were "a pathetic fabrication" and an attempt by the British Army to divert attention from their own culpability over the killings.
Mr Christopher Clarke QC, counsel to the inquiry, told of security service documents implicating Mr McGuinness. One message which came from The Hague, dated April 1984, described the debriefing of an informer, code named "Infliction". It stated: "McGuinness had admitted to Infliction that he had personally fired the shot (from a Thompson machine gun on single shot) from Rossville Flats in the Bogside that had precipitated the Bloody Sunday episodes."
Another classified document, produced a month later, referred to a conversation with another senior member of the Provisional IRA who confirmed that Mr McGuinness fired the shot.


I see that today, General Michael Rose says he personally heard shots from a Thomson, and noted the time, when he was a relatively junior officer in Derry that day. He also reports that he saw at least one rifle on a high balcony.


In addition, I recall that when the Inquiry was set up, a friend who was a sergeant in 1 Para, in Belfast on the same day, told me he had very quickly heard from pals in the "offending" battalion that machine-gun fire had preceded the shootings of demonstrators. He thought - this was years later of course - that they reported full-auto fire, but Michael Rose says that what he heard was semi-auto.

It seems to me that if you are a nervous soldier looking forward on a very narrow front, and you hear gunfire which is not that of an SLR, you are going to deduce that your comrades to right or left are under fire, and it will not take much to prompt you to fire to the front. Perhaps the Army were indeed set up.

When I left school and had done a bit of travelling at the end of the 1960s, the question came up of whether the Army might be a good next step. At the time the prospects were of garrison duty in Germany or service in Northern Ireland and a political war. Neither, thank goodness, appealed. My sincere sympathies to the demonstrators killed, and to the men of 2 Para. I suspect they were all innocent victims.

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