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BBC NI's Keiron Tuorish reports
Relatives are angry over disclosures
 real 28k

Monday, 31 January, 2000, 14:06 GMT
Bloody Sunday gun claims anger lawyer

Fourteen people were killed in the Bloody Sunday shootings Fourteen people died in the Bloody Sunday shootings

A lawyer involved in the Bloody Sunday inquiry has requested that the hearing be delayed over allegations the Ministry of Defence disposed of guns fired on the day.
The Search for Peace

The inquiry into the events on 30 January 1972 in which 13 civil rights marchers were shot dead by British paratroopers is due to get under way on 27 March.

A 14th person died afterwards as a result of wounds inflicted on that day.

Solicitor Greg McCartney was surprised by revelations that 13 of the guns used by paratroopers on Bloody Sunday were routinely destroyed or sold by the Ministry of Defence. Mr McCartney is acting for a number of families whose relatives were killed.

Lord Saville Lord Saville:To consider postponement request
The inquiry had wanted to examine the weapons but the Ministry of Defence was not legally obliged to retain them.

Mr McCartney described the destruction of the weapons as a "sinister" development.

"What we have is a situation that 29 guns were initally submitted for forensic analysis in 1972," he said.

"Between 1972 and the announcement of the inquiry, 11 of those appear to have been routinely destroyed.

"From the date the inquiry was announced two years ago 13 of these weapons have been sent for destruction."

Mr McCartney believes it is now impossible for the tribunal, which is headed by Lord Saville, to start on time.

'Becoming impossible'

He said legal representatives for the families had not seen new statements from soldiers who were present on the day.

Neither had they seen statements from RUC officers, civil servants and politicians which had been made to the inquiry, he added.

"There are also a number of experts' reports outstanding," he said.

"Simply for that matter to arrive sometime in February or March and for the families' legal representatives to digest it and develop a strategy to deal with it is becoming impossible.

"The legal representatives are not prepared to allow the families to be ambushed as they were at Widgery by new material being dropped on them on a virtually daily basis, with no time to analyse the material or assess its impact on the overall case."

A previous inquiry, headed by Lord Widgery in 1972, cleared the soldiers but has been declared a whitewash by relatives of the victims and campaigners.

Anniversary march

Mr McCartney said the solicitors did not know whether Lord Saville would accede to their request for a postponement.

"From the lawyers' point of view, I don't think we will be sitting in the Guild Hall on the 27th of March unless we are ready to present the families' case in its entirety," he said.

The 28th anniversary of Bloody Sunday was marked at the weekend by a procession along the route of the original march in 1972.

More than 10,000 people, including Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, attended the march which was addressed by the Health Minister, Bairbre de Brun.

During the week, it was disclosed in the House of Commons that the new Bloody Sunday inquiry had cost 13m to date.

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See also:
30 Jan 00 |  Northern Ireland
Marchers mark Bloody Sunday
22 Jan 00 |  Northern Ireland
Bloody Sunday march in gay row
27 Sep 99 |  Northern Ireland
Bloody Sunday inquiry told of names difficulty
29 Jul 99 |  UK Politics
Bloody Sunday soldiers win anonymity battle
29 Jul 99 |  UK Politics
Families fume at anonymity ruling
28 Sep 99 |  Northern Ireland
Security assessment ordered at inquiry

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