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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 18:45 GMT
Councillor 'led' junior IRA wing
Soldiers in Derry on Bloody Sunday
Soldiers shot 13 people dead in Derry on Bloody Sunday

A Sinn Fein councillor has told the Saville inquiry he was the leader of the junior wing of the IRA in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday.

Gerry O'Hara, a former northern chairperson of Sinn Fein, made the statement during his evidence to the tribunal at the Guildhall in Derry on Tuesday.

The inquiry is examining the events of 30 January 1972 when 13 civilians were shot dead by British army soldiers during a civil rights march in the city. A 14th person died later.

Mr O'Hara, a member of Derry City Council, told the tribunal that he was the leader of the Fianna, the junior wing of the IRA, on that day.

He said he knew for certain that no Fianna member, including his friend Gerald Donaghy, had nailbombs on the day.

Mr Donaghy, who was a Fianna member, was shot dead and later photographed with four nailbombs in his pockets.

Mr O'Hara said he was with Mr Donaghy at various times on Bloody Sunday and that he was absolutely certain that he did not have nailbombs.

The Sinn Fein councillor also refused to name other members of the Fianna and a man he described as an "IRA liaison officer".

He was told that he may be brought back to the inquiry and ordered to reveal the names at some stage in the future.

Earlier on Tuesday, another witness at the inquiry said he saw an unarmed man being shot on Bloody Sunday.

Christmas break

Thomas Barr said the man had just seen a crowd around the body of Jackie Duddy at Rossville flats, when he started waving his arms and shouting at soldiers.

Mr Barr said the man was clearly unarmed when he was shot in the leg. The witness also described seeing a gunman firing a couple of shots from a handgun at the end of Chamberlain Street.

Mr Barr said the soldiers could not have seen the gunman otherwise they would have easily shot him and captured him.

The inquiry has now risen for the Christmas break. It will resume on Monday 12 January and continue for a number of weeks until all the remaining witnesses have been heard.

After the end of oral evidence, the inquiry will move into the closing stages including submissions and the closing speech by Counsel to the Inquiry.

These closing stages are likely to last for some months after which the Tribunal will retire to write their report.

Publication of the report will take place towards the end of 2004 at the earliest.

Lord Saville of Newdigate and the Commonwealth judges accompanying him on the Bloody Sunday inquiry began their work nearly four years ago.

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry was established in 1998 by Prime Minister Tony Blair after a campaign by families of those killed and injured.

They felt that the Widgery Inquiry, held shortly after the shootings, did not find out the truth about what happened on Bloody Sunday.

BBC NI's Paul McAuley:
"Mr O'Hara told the tribunal that he was the leader of the Fianna, the junior wing of the IRA"

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