16 October 2003 Edition
Bloody Sunday Para joined UDA
BY FERN LANE
A former member of the Parachute Regiment who took part in Bloody Sunday subsequently joined the UDA, the Bloody Sunday inquiry discovered. Soldier 203, an arms and ammunition storeman in the British Army, was recalled to the inquiry after involvement with loyalist murder gang leading up to his conviction and imprisonment in 1977 was revealed.
He said that about six months before Bloody Sunday, his father-in-law, a member of the UDA, had approached him to obtain weapons and ammunition. He said that he refused, but was aware of other soldiers who did supply arms and ammunition to loyalists. He also said that he had told his NCO about the request but that the army had taken no action whatsoever on the matter.
Under questioning, Soldier 203 described the UDA - responsible for the killings of hundreds of nationalists - as an "anti-terrorist organisation", and claimed that on Bloody Sunday he was neither a member of, nor sympathetic to, the UDA, despite his father-in-law's involvement. He also claimed that, during his own involvement in the mid-1970s, he did not know that that the organisation was involved in sectarian murder - even though he was a 'battalion commander'. During that period alone, the UDA killed nearly 100 people, most of them Catholic civilians.
The former soldier said that he joined the UDA simply for "social purposes" and for "protection", adding that membership allowed him to go drinking and engage in other social activities when he returned to the Six Counties after leaving the army. This assertion was challenged by Barry MacDonald, who asked "whether he is the sort of man who really just joined the UDA because it provided perhaps a bridge club for him or some sort of knitting circle he could join or whether he was actually involved in orchestrating the killings, on a mass scale, of Catholics".
In other developments, a former Paratrooper told the Bloody Sunday Inquiry last Friday that he had gone to Derry with the intention of killing Martin McGuinness. On one occasion, claimed Soldier L, he had seen Martin McGuinness in Belfast: "I had him in my rifle sights and I was just waiting for the order to shoot him dead," he said.
Soldier L also told the inquiry that at a briefing before the march, the battalion was told in a "roundabout" way that they were to "eradicate" the IRA.
"What we were hearing along the grapevine and from the intelligence section, was that it was on the cards that we would be asked to go up and eradicate the hold the IRA had on these areas.
"It were not directly," he said, "but we already knew, because when we was moving into there, Colonel Wilford, in all intents and purposes, owned all of Londonderry. Londonderry is all part of British Northern Ireland, which comes under Britain, so there can be no no-go areas anywhere in the British Isles."
The soldier also told the inquiry that there had been an unspoken order to kill Bernadette Devlin. "It would not have gone amiss," he said. "It would not have been a problem. It would have been part of our daily work to eliminate terrorists - we was trained enough to be reliable enough to take a proper decision at the time."
"Would that include a decision to shoot Ms Devlin on sight?" he was asked. "Any terrorist," he replied. "And you took Ms Devlin to be a terrorist?" "Yes."
Under questioning by Arthur Harvey about the wild inconsistencies in his statement, Soldier L said that he had recurring nightmares about Bloody Sunday and agreed that they had become more real to him than what happened on the day. He also said that he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. It was suggested by Harvey that the evidence he had given to the inquiry - including claims that he shot at a sniper, that he saw Bishop Daly concealing guns in his coat and that he recovered explosives at the barricade in Rossville Street - was "pure fantasy". Instead, said Harvey, the soldier was one of the group of Paras who had picked off people huddled at the barrier. Soldier L is believed to have killed William Nash.
On Thursday, the inquiry heard from Soldier 150, a corporal in B Company of 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment. He was positioned at an army barrier on Barrack Street, and was one of the soldiers who carried out an arrest operation on the occupants of two cars - the first containing Joe Friel, who had been shot and wounded, the second containing the fatally wounded Gerard Donaghy - as they approached the barrier.
Having arrested most of the uninjured occupants of the two cars, who were beaten by soldiers, Soldier 105 climbed into the driver's seat of the car containing Gerard Donaghy after he was ordered to drive it to the Regimental HQ on Craigavon Bridge.
Under questioning by Séamus Treacy, Soldier 105 said he could not explain why he had been not been told to take Donaghy, who if not already dead was clearly in need of intensive care, straight to Altnagelvin Hospital rather than to the HQ.
Soldier 105 told the inquiry that he did not recognise any of the accounts of the incident given by another member of his regiment, identified as 104, and by various RUC officers. Soldier 104 has claimed to the inquiry that he had seen nail bombs in Donaghy's pockets whilst the car was at the barrier, whilst the RUC officers claimed that, firstly, the two cars had driven forcibly through the barrier, then that Soldier 105 had been shown a nail bomb supposedly found in Donaghy's pockets and had, according to one officer, expressed "considerable surprise" and, according to another, that he had yelled "Get out, it is a bomb".
In his witness statement to the inquiry, the soldier said: "I am sure if there had been a nail bomb or bombs in the man's pockets, I would have seen them. Had I seen them, I would have told my officer and the thing would have unfolded from there. I had the opportunity to see if there was a nail bomb when I picked up the man's right arm to feel his pulse. I have no idea how the nail bombs got there, but they were certainly not there when I saw the body."
Jackson recalled over 'shot list'
The most senior officer in the British Army, General Mike Jackson, gave evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry on Wednesday 15 October. He was was recalled to the inquiry after it emerged that he had written documents on the night of Bloody Sunday containing interviews with soldiers after the killings containing a "shot list" detailing targets soldiers claimed they fired at.
Jackson told the Inquiry he was not involved in a cover up. He told the tribunal he had not spoken to individual soldiers but had just written out what other senior officers had told him and claimed mistakes in the account were the result of tiredness when he wrote it.
Mike Mansfield QC, representing the families of the victims, said there was a "serious question mark" over the list.
"The big question mark, General, in everybody's mind, and it may not have occurred to you, is that this list does not begin to explain any of the 13 civilian dead. Did you know that?"
Jackson replied: "I am sorry, I simply do not understand the statement you are making. This list refers to people being 'hit' and people being 'killed'. It makes no attempt here to say civilian or whatever."
Mansfield said that the purpose of the list was to justify the actions of Bloody Sunday by claiming the dead were gunmen and bombers.
"General, you only have to glance down the list. The whole point of the list, I suggest, originally was in order to justify publicly why people had been shot, so they were described as 'nail bombers', 'pistol firers', 'carrying rifles' and so on.
"None of the 13 were carrying nail bombs, none of the 13 were carrying pistols, none of the 13 were carrying rifles, do you follow that?"
Jackson said this was a matter for the tribunal to decide.
In his supplementary statement, Gen Jackson said he could not explain why the names of paratroopers or the number of rounds fired were not included.
He said he "emphatically" rejected suggestions that there was an attempt to sanitise the events.
He said: "If the list of engagements is not comprehensive or contains errors, I cannot provide an explanation but I am sure that any errors or omissions are the result of oversight or some other proper and innocent reasons."
Jackson, who appeared before the inquiry in April, was called again after it emerged that he had written the list of engagements, originally thought to have been written by his superior officer, Major Ted Loden.
In his second statement, Jackson said he he must have been asked to produce initial reports for more senior officers and added that if there were any mistakes in the documents they were not intentional.
More recently, Jackson was the most senior British Army officer sitting on the Army Board which ruled that the two soldiers convicted of the murder of 18-year-old Peter McBride were fit to continue serving in the British Army. The McBride family have long argued that a senior officer who was present in Derry on Bloody Sunday was a totally inappropriate individual to sit on such an Army Board.
Jackson was also the officer in command of British forces during the Iraq war.