16 November 2000 Edition

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Bloody Sunday Inquiry hears of shoot-to-kill policy

BY PATRICIA McBRIDE

A barrister representing a number of the deceased and wounded of Bloody Sunday has told the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that the British Army had approved a shoot-to-kill policy in respect of individuals involved in protests up to three weeks in advance of Bloody Sunday.

Arthur Harvey QC, instructed by Madden & Finucane, gave his analysis of official documents that have been submitted as evidence before the Inquiry, which re-opened in the Guildhall in Derry this week. These documents included a memo written by General Robert Ford, then Officer Commanding the army in the Six Counties, in which Ford states: ``I am coming to the conclusion that the only way to deal with the situation is to shoot selected ringleaders of the DYH.'' (Derry Young Hooligans).

Harvey stated: ``When one goes through the documents, one eventually sees that by mid-January, General Ford had come to the conclusion that the stage had been reached where the only solution was to shoot and to shoot to kill those persons who were involved in rioting.''

He also referred to the minutes of meeting of the joint security committee at Stormont three days before Bloody Sunday, which stated that the civil rights march in Derry ``could end up in a shooting war.'' The then Home Affairs minister John Taylor chaired the meeting.

Harvey continued: ``It is inconceivable that any political body or security committee responsible for the safety and wellbeing of its citizens could receive with equanimity, the expression that the civil rights march of Sunday 30 January could end up in a shooting war and no comment be made.

``When one looks at the broad swathe of documents, the interpretation I submit is not the one which has been offered by Counsel to the Tribunal, that Bloody Sunday basically is not something that was envisaged or foreseen. It ought to have been foreseen by the Westminster Government. It ought to have been foreseen by the Stormont regime, and in fact was.''

On Monday, Christopher Clark QC, Counsel to the Inquiry, introduced into evidence a recording made by the IRA of tapped telephone conversations which took place at Victoria Barracks in Derry on the evening of Bloody Sunday. This tape had been missing since it was seized by the Gardai in 1976 during a house raid and was made available to the Derry Journal by republican sources in September this year.

The tape contains conversations between soldiers and also between soldiers and journalists in which discussions of the events of the day take place and in which one soldier is heard to tell another, ``General Ford was lapping it up. He says it's the best thing he's seen in years.''

There are also comments made about ``things going badly'' and ``the wrong people'' being shot, which appears to be an admission that the army knew as events were happening that innocent people were being killed and injured.

The Inquiry heard that several requests had been made to the Dublin government for the original copy of the tape to be forwarded, but as yet no reply has been received.

Opening statements by counsel for the families and wounded are expected to continue for another week. The Inquiry expects to begin taking evidence from the first of over 700 civilian witnesses on Monday 27 November.

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