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14 October 1999 Edition

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Anonymity for all Bloody Sunday soldiers

Further controversy this week surrounds the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday as it ruled that all the soldiers in Derry on 30 January 1972 are to be granted anonymity, whether they fired their weapons or not.

In a series of decisions today, the inquiry into the massacre of 14 unarmed nationalists said it had no option but to withhold the identities of all military witnesses.

The Inquiry had originally ruled that all the soldiers who fired their weapons would be identified, but the Court of Appeal in London overturned that decision in July.

Only last month, the families were expressing delight after a reassessment showed that the forensic evidence used in the Widgery Inquiry to discredit the victims was worthless.

But Tony Doherty, son of murder victim Patrick Doherty, said he viewed this setback with regard to anonymity as a grave disappointment. He believes that the independence of the inquiry is being gradually eroded.

``I am sure the families will be consulting with their legal advisers over the coming days to work out a considered response and to decide what further action they should take,'' he said.

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and Derry Assembly member Mitchel McLaughlin said: ``Sinn Féin shares the disappointment felt by the Bloody Sunday families at today's decision. The hope the people had that this inquiry would be open and transparent has been dashed. The Irish people's experience of British inquiries into British misdeeds has once again been reinforced. We have again seen the inability of another British government to deliver on the promises that they made We will support the families in whatever course of action they deem fit to take in response to this decision.''

In further preliminary deliberations, the Saville Inquiry also ordered media organisations to disclose identities of their sources.

The full Saville hearings are due to go ahead in public next year.

An Phoblacht
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