SAVILLE INQUIRY CIRCUS
A media circus has descended on the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in
Derry for the testimony of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness.
The huge media presence which descended on Derrys Guildhall
on the 390th day of the inquiry yesterday angered some of the
victims, who felt the actions of the British troops in
killings their loved ones were being overlooked in the
sensation over McGuinness's past IRA activities.
McGuinness, a former senior member of the IRA and now a
political representative, took his place for the past two days
at the Saville Inquiry to help the families of those killed on
Bloody Sunday discover the truth.
He told the inquiry he had become officer commanding of the
IRA in Derry two weeks after Bloody Sunday, when British
troops fired at civil rights demonstrators, killing 14.
He confirmed that no IRA members engaged militarily with the
British soldiers on Bloody Sunday.
He pointed out that IRA snipers were as well-trained as those
of the British Army. and that if the IRA had wanted to kill
paratroopers on Bloody Sunday, it could have -- but it chose
Today, as yesterday, he refused to disclose the locations of
the IRA's command center and arms dump in the nationalist
Bogside on Bloody Sunday.
He said that he was bound by the IRA's code or honour and felt
it would be an act of betrayal to disclose the identity of the
However, at the request of the Inquiry, he said he had
approached people who had provided assistance to the IRA in
January 1972, and they had asked him not to disclose the
"In my view their attitude is totally understandable," he told
the Inquiry today. He believed that those who had provided the
IRA with logistical support were open to prosecution by the
"Family members would be put at grave risk of attack by
loyalist paramilitaries who have killed republicans and
continue to target republicans," he said.
In response to badgering today by counsel for the British
soldiers, Mr McGuinness pointed out that it was the British
Ministry of Defence which had presented the greatest
obstruction to the inquiry, and not former IRA Vounteers such
When questioned by Mr Edwin Glasgow, lawyer for many of the
soldiers, about why he had initially not co-operated with the
inquiry, Mr McGuinness said he still questioned whether the
Saville Inquiry was truly independent.
"I accept that it is a distinguished tribunal, but I do not
accept it is independent," said Mr McGuinness.
He said there was a lot of concern about the conduct of the
tribunal among the families and victims -- but he added that
it could still uncover the truth of the events of January 30,
"One of the important things that has happened over the course
of the last 10 years is that a British prime minister came on
the scene who decided to do things differently from any other
British prime minister in history," said Mr McGuinness.
"So whilst I have expressed my reservations about the
independence of this tribunal, that does not necessarily mean
that I do not have confidence that this tribunal can get to
the truth and finally clear up what has been a running sore."
Earlier today, Mr McGuinness was accompanied by Sinn Fein
President Gerry Adams as he arrived at the Guildhall in Derry
to continue his evidence.
Mr Adams said he was there in solidarity with the families and
his party colleague Mr McGuinness.
He said: "It (Bloody Sunday) was a watershed event in our
recent history, not least for the families."
He added that there had been many attempts to make out that
the victims were guilty but Mr McGuinness`s evidence should
Mr Adams, commenting on yesterday`s events, spoke of "the
total absurdity of questions about the whereabouts of IRA
dumps when clearly the weapons that were used were British
"The weapons which killed people were in the hands of British
He added that there should be no confusion about who had done
the killing on Bloody Sunday.
"Everyone in the free world knows what happened here. It's up
to the British state to own up."