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15 May 2003 Edition

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Relative walks out in disgust

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry



BY FERN LANE


Eileen Doherty, whose husband Paddy was killed on Bloody Sunday, walked out of the Saville Inquiry on Tuesday in disgust at the measures being taken to conceal the identity of the former MI5 Director of Intelligence for the Six Counties, who gave his evidence via a video link from an undisclosed foreign location.

Mrs Doherty said that the inquiry had become a "farce" and that she would not return until the officer, identified only as 'David', had finished giving evidence. It emerged during his evidence that the 84-year-old had, in fact, visited London to prepare his statement - which he also admitted was drawn up with the help of MI5 - before claiming that he was not well enough to attend the inquiry in person.

He told the inquiry that, although he had not received any specific intelligence suggesting that the IRA would use the march to attack the British Army, he did recall "that it was endemic at the time that the IRA would join marches, demonstrations and any civil disturbance to exploit opportunities to cause trouble".

Under questioning by Barry MacDonald QC for the families, he insisted, despite concrete evidence to the contrary, that he could recall occasions prior to Bloody Sunday when the IRA had used a civil rights march to mount an attack on either British soldiers or the RUC. He also denied that, according to intelligence documents produced at the time, he viewed the IRA and NICRA as one and the same and believed that, along with other republican organisations, all were part of the "lunatic left".

It has been an eventful week at Central Hall. Despite the repeated attempts by the British Minister for Defence, Geoff Hoon, to disrupt proceedings with legal actions designed to prevent the meaningful questioning of crown forces security service witnesses, the inquiry has heard from both the former MI5 officer, David Shayler, and the former British British Army intelligence officer known by the pseudonym Martin Ingram.

Shayler told the inquiry that, despite the claims of the handlers of the agent codenamed 'Infliction' to the inquiry last week, he himself remembered "very clearly" being told by a colleague that the agent, who in 1984 claimed that Martin McGuinness had "precipitated" Bloody Sunday, was a "bullshitter". "That was not a formal opinion, obviously," said Shayler, "but it was nevertheless an opinion of people who had heard about Infliction or had come across his reporting before.

"People tended to use that particular word. Can I add as well, that when I came across Infliction in the press, my first reaction was to turn round to my partner Annie Machon [also a former MI5 officer] and say: 'what does Infliction mean to you?' so I did not pre-empt her, and she immediately said: 'he is a bullshitter'."

On Monday, Martin Ingram told the inquiry that he was involved with the FRU during the 1980s but during the course of his work he had come across many intelligence reports concerning Bloody Sunday. "I cannot recall any which suggested that Martin McGuinness was involved in the firing of a weapon on Bloody Sunday," he said. "Indeed, I remember seeing documents that gave details of Mr McGuinness's movements indicating that he had been the subject of surveillance during the day of the march."

Ingram said that he has seen could also recall seeing documents which suggested that information had been received prior to the march from British agents "that there was no intent to undertake military activity during the march" by either the IRA or the Officials. "The collated documents which I read would leave the reader with the distinct impression that there were no shots fired at the troops prior to the troops opening fire - It is also my recollection that I saw no official documentation suggesting that dead bodies had been secretly buried across the border in the Republic, although there were many reports of the wounded being treated in the south for wounds received during the march." He said that anyone who believed it would have been possible to secretly bury IRA men in the 26 Counties "would probably be thinking that Santa Claus was still coming at Christmas time". He also said he has doubts that the agent Infliction actually exists.

The inquiry also heard that Ingram had decided to approach a number of journalists about the information regarding Bloody Sunday in his possession because he believed that the British Army would not make a full disclosure to the inquiry. It was a suspicion "born of experience", he said: "The Army do not hand over documents unless pressure is brought to bear on them: ask Sir John Stevens."
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