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Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Inquiry hears of police-army dispute
Murals in the Bogside area of Londonderry
Bloody Sunday dead are remembered in the Bogside
The Bloody Sunday tribunal has heard details of the security force plan for dealing with an illegal civil rights march in Londonderry which ended in tragedy.

On the third day of the inquiry details were given of operation Forecast, the security plan for 30 January 1972 when paratroopers opened fire killing and fatally injuring 14 marchers.

The inquiry into the events, being held in Derry's Guildhall, is expected to run for two years.

The senior lawyer for the inquiry, Michael Clarke, QC said the Army expected the IRA to take advantage of the march.

Tribunal chairman Lord Saville
Lord Saville is chairing the tribunal hearing evidence
And he said they believed they would come under sniper attack and face petrol and nail bombers.

The Army planned to have substantial numbers on the ground but they were to take no action unless their lines were breached or if they came under attack.

Dispute between Army and police

The inquiry heard earlier on Wednesday that there were disagreements between the Army and police in Derry about how the march should be policed.

Derry's chief constable RUC Chief Superintendent Frank Lagan's believed if the march went ahead it would encourage other similar demonstrations.

While Brigadier Andrew Patrick MacLellan thought Mr Lagan's proposal to let a civil rights demonstration proceed unhampered was because his sympathies lay "entirely within the Catholic community". along with those of his deputy.

The Inquiry was told about a meeting of senior military officers two days before Bloody Sunday.

Counsel for the inquiry said on Wednesday the Brigadier said the Superintendent's decision not to stop the march was "patently a gesture or umbrella to maintain his position with his own people".

Brigadier MacLellan's statement was contained in a letter to the Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland, General Robert Ford, in March 1972, read out by Mr Clarke.

It also emerged that the then Chief Constable of the RUC, Sir Graham Shillington, rejected the assessment of his sub-divisional commander in Derry and wanted the march to be stopped.

Mr Clarke has been outlining material gathered by the inquiry team to date and his opening speech is set to last up to four weeks.

'Other marches would be triggered'

On Tuesday it emerged that Mr Lagan's views were given to Brigadier MacLellan, commander of the 8th Infantry Brigade in Derry, on January 24, with both men subsequently passing them on to the Sir Graham and General Ford.

Counsel told the hearing: "It appears to be that Mr Lagan thought that if the march was stopped, sporadic outbreaks of marching might occur over the course of the next few days throughout the city but that if it was allowed to go to the Guildhall they would go through and make their point.

"The meeting would take place and after the civil rights meeting there would be a limited amount of stone-throwing.

"Brigadier MacLellan believed that after any meeting had taken place the likelihood was not that there would be limited stone-throwing and that would peter out but that there could well be further rioting after the speeches had taken place, probably encouraged thereby."

Later a statement by Sir Graham was read out confirming that he, too, disagreed with Mr Lagan's analysis.

It said: "I believed that if this march were allowed to happen, it would encourage other marches to be organised in its wake.

"The fact that it had been allowed would bring the law into disrepute and it would not guarantee that the march passed off peacefully."

'Surprise parachute regiment deployed'

The Inquiry was also told about a meeting of senior military officers two days before Bloody Sunday.

The commander in chief of the Royal Anglians was surprised that the parachute regiment was being deployed to Derry.

Inquiry QC Christopher Clarke also revealed details of a military discussion document on marches dated three days before Bloody Sunday.

An unnamed Colonel said the only additional measure left would be the use of firearms. But if that were to happen it would not be the gunmen who were killed but innocent members of the public.

He said this was a harsh and final step and testament to saying all else had failed.

The Colonel said it must be rejected except in extreme circumstances, but it could not be ruled out.

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See also:

28 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Violence 'forecast' on Bloody Sunday
26 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Bloody Sunday truth pledge
24 Mar 00 | Bloody Sunday Inquiry
Q & A: The Bloody Sunday Inquiry
24 Mar 00 | Bloody Sunday Inquiry
Challenges facing the Saville inquiry
24 Mar 00 | Bloody Sunday Inquiry
The reporter's story
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