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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 17:20 GMT
Brigadier admits operation timing 'wrong'
Bloody Sunday Tribunal
Military witnesses are giving evidence in London
The soldier in charge of the Army's operation on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry has told the Saville Inquiry he may have chosen the wrong moment to send the Parachute Regiment into the Bogside.

Brigadier Pat MacLellan said he was under the impression that there was enough separation between rioters and civil rights marchers to launch an arrest operation but that he may have given the order to go into the Bogside area at the wrong time.

He also told the tribunal that he did not know the details of the plan which was to be used by the paratroops going into the Bogside.

Brigadier MacLellan was giving his account of Bloody Sunday to the tribunal which is investigating what happened on 30 January 1972 when paratroops opened fire on civilians at a civil rights march in the Bogside in Derry killing 13 civilians. Another man died later.

Inquiry chairman Lord Saville
Lord Saville is investigating what happened on Bloody Sunday

In his evidence on Tuesday, Brigadier MacLellan said while he gave the order for the Parachute Regiment to move into the Bogside, the tactics on the day were left to their commander, Colonel Derek Wilford.

And he said the operation to arrest 300 to 400 rioters, if there was trouble at an illegal civil rights march in the Bogside, proposed by Commander of Land Force's in Northern Ireland General Sir Robert Ford, had not been conducted before in Derry "in my time".

But he said he approved 1 Para as the arrest force.

"As far as I was concerned they were an experienced, good battalion who had been operating in Belfast, I think for some 20 months and were highly thought of by the general, so it was okay by me," he said.

Brigadier MacLellan said he would not have knowingly supported the shooting of some rioters.

And he said the idea of shooting a 15-year-old boy for throwing stones would not have helped the Army politically or militarily.

The Saville Inquiry was set up by Prime Minister Tony Blair to reinvestigate the evidence because the relatives felt the first inquiry was a whitewash.

Lord Saville and the Commonwealth judges who comprise the inquiry, are not expected to report back until 2004.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Paul McCauley:
"The brigadier is viewed by many as the most important witness so far"
Find out more about the Bloody Sunday Inquiry


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See also:

19 Nov 02 | N Ireland
12 Nov 02 | N Ireland
04 Nov 02 | N Ireland
30 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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