No contempt charges seen despite IRA honour code
A spokesman for the Bloody Sunday Inquiry has said they are
not considering contempt charges against Sinn Fein's Martin
McGuinness despite his refusal to name fellow IRA Volunteers
in Derry on the day British soldiers killed 14 civil rights
demonstrators in the city.
The Mid-Ulster MP yesterday declared at the end of his two
days of evidence at the tribunal in Derry that he would rather
die than reveal the names of IRA members.
He said: "I am prepared to go to jail. I would rather die than
destroy my code of honour to the IRA."
The inquiry spokesman today said contempt proceedings against
Mr McGuinness would not be necessary if the tribunal was
successful by other means in identifying IRA members on Bloody
"If this happens the question of asking Mr McGuinness for
these names becomes redundant."
Earlier this week, Mr McGuinness said the orders to the IRA
Volunteers were "very clear, and the orders were that under no
circumstances whatsoever were they to engage with the British
Army during the course of the civil rights protest. No one who
was a member of the IRA was under any illusion whatsoever
about that fact.
"The British Army know they were not fired on by the IRA;
their military commanders know they were not fired on by the
IRA; their political masters know that the British Army were
not fired on by the IRA."
During his testimony, McGuinness acknowledged that he rose to
the rank of Officer Commanding of the Derry Brigade of the IRA
in the aftermath of the Bloody Sunday killings.
Throughout his evidence, he insisted that the IRA had not
fired a single shot or thrown any bombs at soldiers on Bloody
Sunday. He also rejected allegations made by informer Paddy
Ward that he had distributed component parts for nail bombs or
planned to plant bombs.
"The orders were that under no circumstances whatsoever were
they (IRA Volunteers) to engage with the British Army during
the course of the civil rights protest," said McGuinness. "I
spoke with the command staff and all active Volunteers. I
relayed the decision taken by the OC (Officer in Command).
He said spoke with the command staff and all active
Volunteers, and that everyone accepted that there would be no
engagement with the British Army during the course of the
civil rights protest
He went on to explain that before the march was to take place
he and another IRA Volunteer had collected IRA weapons and
taken them to a 'safe house' in the Bogside.
"Only two people had access to that dump," he said. "I
of the two. Even the OC did not know where the dump was. That
is why I say there was no maverick action by IRA Volunteers
In spite of repeated attempts to have him do so, McGuinness
refused to reveal details regarding the location of the dump.
He told the inquiry he was bound by a code of honour and
refused to answer on the grounds that he did not think it was
relevant to the inquiry.
"I understand the need for the tribunal to have that
information, but this is a deeply personal thing for me,"
McGuinness said. "For me to give the location of these
buildings would be a gross act of betrayal and I just cannot
He said the IRA were "very angry and emotional", but had
concluded that any military engagement with the British Army
would see us "fall into a trap".
"We felt, even though I still didn't know the full extent of
what had happened, that with so many journalists and other
media in Derry for the march, that we should let the world see
what we know to be fact -- that the British Army had shot
innocent civil rights marchers."
Meanwhile, relatives of those killed and wounded on Bloody
Sunday staged a protest against the media circus surrounding
John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead on
Bloody Sunday, said the families are frustrated and angry that
the non-Irish media has virtually ignored the inquiry since it
was announced almost six years ago.
"We have had extremely important evidence over the last 13
months," said Kelly, "evidence from the killers... and there
was very little interest from the media.
"It is starting to look like the Martin McGuinness inquiry and
not the Bloody Sunday inquiry."
He added that McGuinness had predicted to the families that
this would happen.
Gerry Duddy, brother of Jackie Duddy -- the first and youngest
of the 13 initial fatalities -- said the families were not
objecting to the increased media presence but "we believe they
are giving undue attention to one single witness, Martin
McGuinness, rather than giving equal attention to the
families' call for truth and justice.
"This has absolutely nothing to do with Bloody Sunday 30 years
ago," he said sharply, "its about politics today."