Soldier's account fuels call for inquiry into Bloody Sunday

By William Pomeroy, People's Weekly World, 29 March 1997

LONDON—A British paratrooper has described the British Army's actions in Derry, Northern Ireland 25 years ago—when British troops shot 27 unarmed civilians, killing 14—as shameful and disgraceful.

The soldier, who had been in Derry on Bloody Sunday, Jan.30, 1972, described the terrible events of that day in a news program last week. His account broke with the official British government version. And he claimed that a statement he had made to the official inquiry had been tampered with by his superiors.

The soldier said there was a shambles and that at times, command and control were missing. People fleeing were fired on, he said, and one wounded man on the floor was then shot twice in the back. He also said that another man was shot at close range directly in the face.

The shootings took place at the end of a peaceful civil rights demonstration in the city of Derry. Allegations that the troops had responded to gunfire have always been strongly denied by local eyewitnesses and in fact no weapons were found on any of the victims.

According to last week's Irish Times, a senior BBC journalist, David Capper, has also reported that the lengthy evidence he gave to the inquiry was inaccurately summarized in the published report. The published version suggests that a shot was fired at the British Army during the march. What he actually told the inquiry was that he had heard a single shot fired some two hours before the march or the killings.

All of this comes hot on the heels of another admission by an Anglian Regiment soldier that British Army snipers had fired on demonstrators from positions along the city walls. Separate forensic evidence backs this up by showing that some wounds showed the bullets had been fired from above ground level.

It is possible that shots from British Army snipers caused the paratroopers to think they were coming under fire. But whatever the soldiers believed, the question still has to be answered: why were snipers on the walls and why did they open fire?

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuiness has called for the establishment of a panel of international jurists to investigate Bloody Sunday. He said, Last night's interview, coupled with a previous interview with a Royal Anglian soldier indicating the presence of British snipers on Derry's walls, pointed conclusively to state sanctioned murder ... What is required is not another British investigation of its own war crimes in Ireland but an independent international panel of inquiry consisting of jurists and under the auspices of an international human rights organization.

The leader of Ireland's Fianna Fail Party, Bertie Ahern, said the British authorities need to acknowledge Bloody Sunday for what it was, an inexcusable act of state terrorism that was subsequently covered up and spawned many other evil acts.