20 March 1997 Edition
No excuse now
Immediate Bloody Sunday inquiry demanded
Pressure for a new inquiry into Bloody Sunday is now unstoppable. Damning new evidence from a paratrooper who was in Derry when 14 civilians were murdered by his fellow soldiers has blown the lid off 25 years of lies and cover-ups.
The soldier has told how they were told to ``get some kills'', how some of the victims were shot when they had their hands up, how a ceasefire order was ignored and how his original evidence to the Widgery Tribunal was torn up.
Demands are growing that the discredited Major government should act honourably in its dying days and order a fresh, independent inquiry.
Startling new Bloody Sunday evidence
by Eoin O'Broin
The demand for a new and independent inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday has been given an enormous boost with the publication by the Sunday Business Post of a statement made by a British paratrooper who was part of the platoon of soldiers in Derry which carried out the killings.
The statement, which has been handed to the Irish Government, contains the names of those who fired the shots which killed the 14 unarmed civilians, and their officers.
The statement also includes the claim that the soldier's original testimony, which he was to present to the Widgery Tribunal, was destroyed and an altered version was prepared for him and subsequently given as evidence. The soldier (described as Soldier A) has confirmed that eyewitness statements given to the Tribunal and collected by Don Mullan in the recently published book, ``Eyewitness Bloody Sunday'' are correct.
In a statement issued by the Bloody Sunday Trust, Derry-based human rights activist Robin Percival said; ``The significance of the statement made by Soldier A is enormous. While his evidence will need to be placed in the context of all the available evidence that already exists on Bloody Sunday, it dramatically demonstrates the need for a new and independent inquiry, as has been consistently called for both by the relatives of those killed but also by a wide range of human rights groups''.
Speaking to An Phoblacht, Tony Doherty, son of Patrick Doherty, who was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, said that he was taken totally by surprise of the detail of Soldier A's statement. ``For the families it's a real breakthrough, we always thought that the ground would be broken by someone coming forward. Hopefully Soldier A's testimony will encourage other British soldiers to come forward with the truth''.
However Doherty was not optimistic that the new evidence would have any impact on the present British government. ``Regardless of how this immediate aspect of the story unfolds, the issue will still be here after the forthcoming general election. While the news will not change the approach of the present government, we are hopeful that the future administration may be more willing to address the demands of the families''.
Soldier A's statement also states that:
the paratroopers were briefed by a senior officer before they went to Derry ``to get some kills'';
a ceasefire order was given during the shooting on Rossville Street after some of the first victims have been killed;
the Glenfada Park shootings (the second wave of killings) took place after and in direct contradiction of this order;
the testimony suggests that those shot in Glenfada were standing with their hands in the air and one was shot by a soldier shooting from the hip;
the soldiers made widespread use of non-issue dum-dum bullets (banned under the Geneva Convention Rules);
Widgery's notion that the army fired only 108 bullets was based on efforts by soldiers to conceal the use of their rounds.