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The BBC's Kevin Connolly
"Now it seems he is preparing to make his first clear statement of the role he played in earlier days"
 real 56k

Sunday, 29 April, 2001, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
McGuinness to tell inquiry of IRA role
Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness to "rubbish" evidence he fired shot
The BBC has learned that Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness will tell the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that he was the Provisional IRA's second in command in Londonderry in 1972.

It is the first time the Northern Ireland education minister has formally given details of his role within the IRA.

The inquiry is investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 13 civilians shot dead at a civil rights march by British paratroopers in the city on 30 January that year. Another man died later from his injuries.

Mr McGuinness is expected to give the Saville Tribunal a detailed account of the events as he experienced them 29 years ago.

It is expected that he will say that the IRA was asked to accept that Derry should be peaceful to facilitate the civil rights march on Bloody Sunday.

'Instructions'

British army patrol on Bloody Sunday
British soldiers in Derry on Bloody Sunday
The inquiry will hear that at a meeting with the IRA's officer commanding, Martin McGuinness expressed his support for this proposal.

It is believed he will also say that on the day before Bloody Sunday, he was instructed to tell all volunteers that the IRA should not engage militarily with British forces to ensure the march passed off peacefully.

Mr McGuinness will say that he carried out this instruction and that everyone he spoke to agreed with this approach.

It is believed he will also say that eight IRA members in two units were armed and told to stay in the Creggan and Brandywell areas and that all other IRA weapons were secured in a closed dump.

All other members other than those in the Creggan and Brandywell were told that they could go to the march or spend the day with their families, he will claim.

Shot claims denied

Lawyers at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry had earlier alleged that Mr McGuinness had fired the first shot, which precipitated the army shootings.

The Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, had been shown security service documents from 1984 quoting an agent known as Infliction as saying that Mr McGuinness fired the first shot.

But the Sinn Fein MP for Mid Ulster will tell the inquiry that he stayed at the march from the beginning to the end and that he will reject and brand as rubbish and a lie, the allegation that he fired the first shot.

In January this year Mr McGuinness agreed to give evidence to the tribunal.

Lord Saville: Heading inquiry
Lord Saville: Tribunal looking for full truth
The education minister said Infliction, if he existed, should be called on to give evidence.

'Eager'

At the time he said he was "sceptical and suspicious" about whether the new tribunal would be able to find the truth.

He revealed that his legal representatives were in talks with the inquiry team.

He said: "I will be very eager when that work is completed to provide my evidence to the inquiry.

"I intend to attend the inquiry in person. I will be there.

"After 29 years the British establishment is attempting to blame everyone, except of course their politicians and their generals.

"For the last 29 years they have blamed the civil rights movement, the people of Derry, the dead of Bloody Sunday.

"And now very late in the day, in an obvious act of desperation, they are trying to place the responsibility for Bloody Sunday on me," said Sinn Fein's chief negotiator.

The tribunal has been sitting in public in Londonderry's Guildhall since March 2000.

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See also:

29 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Profile: Martin McGuinness
05 Dec 00 | Northern Ireland
Claim over Bloody Sunday's 'first shot'
26 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
McGuinness will give inquiry evidence
27 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
'Innocents' died on Bloody Sunday
22 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Bloody Sunday 'planned' claim
22 Jun 99 | UK
Behind the MI5 myth
26 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Bloody Sunday victim gives evidence
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