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21 June 2001 Edition

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Bloody Sunday Inquiry

Soldier - Order was given to shoot demonstrators



BY FERN LANE

In a written statement submitted to the Saville Inquiry, a former British soldier has said that his unit was ordered to shoot demonstrators on Bloody Sunday. The soldier, identified only as INQ1952, a former Royal Fusilier, says that his section was told that they were to ``clear the street''. In his statement, the soldier also says that his unit was told to shoot and kill demonstrators whether or not the march passed off peacefully. These orders, he continues, were said to have come ``from Downing Street''.

``Lieutenant INQ2084 and Sergeant INQ2148 said that with all the soldiers out there the IRA would be tempted to shoot at us and would therefore give us the excuse to disperse the crowd. However, if the organisers managed to convince the IRA that it would be in their best interests to stay away, we were to shoot up to seven civilians.''

Soldier INQ1952 says that he was chosen by Lieutenant INQ2084 to do the shooting:

``I think the officers were taking advantage of me because they knew that I would not disobey an order. I was trusted to do the job and was expendable. I argued with Sergeant INQ2148 that once I started shooting, people would be running all over the place. What if a woman or child ran in front or what if the bullet went through the target and then hit a woman or child - what then?' Tough on you,' he said with a grin on his face.''

However, the day before Bloody Sunday, his section was informed that he and his colleagues were to be stood down because ``the Paras had been brought in to do the job''.

The statement has not as yet been read for the record to the Tribunal. Lawyers for the families said that, although it requires scrutiny, aspects of it do corroborate evidence already submitted.
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