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Thursday, 30 March, 2000, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
Inquiry hears of army shooting
Mural depicting Bloody Sunday in Londonderry
Mural depicting Bloody Sunday in Londonderry
The Bloody Sunday inquiry has heard an amateur tape recording of an army attempt to kill a man suspected of throwing a nail bomb.

The tribunal heard that the army missed shooting the man by two inches when he was fired on, two days before the events of 30 January 1972.

On that day paratroopers opened fire killing and fatally injuring 14 men at an illegal civil rights march in Londonderry.

The Saville inquiry into the circumstances of the shootings, which is being held in Derry's guildhall is in it fourth day of hearings and is expected to run for two years.

Inquiry lawyer Christopher Clarke QC, who is presenting all the evidence that the inquiry has collected so far, said the tape was made of army transmissions by a Mr Porter two days before the civil rights march, on 28 January 1972.

This was the first time the Inquiry had heard amateur radio recordings.

Shoot to kill command

It records an incident in William Street in which a soldier says he can see a nail bomber, who does not appear to have anything in his hand at that time.

Courtroom artist's impression of Michael Clarke QC
Michael Clarke QC is presenting the evidence gathered so far
He asks his commanding officer if he should shoot him.

The superior officer asks the soldier: "Are you absolutely certain he's the nail bomber?"

When the soldier replies positively, the officer says: "Shoot him dead".

Then there is a pause while several shots are fired, after which the soldier on patrol reports back saying: "I missed him by about two inches".

The officer replies: "Bad shooting."

Mr Clarke said the tape was relevant to the inquiry because it showed a use of lethal weaponry, justified in times of war, but not otherwise.

Counsel also said that, even though the soldier on the tape was not in the parachute Regiment, he must have been subsequently involved in the Bloody Sunday army operation.

The inquiry also heard details of an increasing number of IRA attacks in the week before Bloody Sunday.

Two Policemen were among the victims.

'Media offensive'

They were believed to be the first RUC officers killed in Derry during the Troubles.

Details of a message sent to the Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Brian Faulkner, from the then British Foreign Secretary, Sir Alec Douglas Home, were also presented.

The message issued two days before Bloody Sunday encouraged Mr Faulkner to go on a media offensive in the days prior to the Bloody Sunday march.

The Foreign Secretary said that Stormont should appeal to all responsible people in Northern Ireland not to attend the civil rights march.

Mr Faulkner was also urged to prepare people in the province and in minaland Britain for scenes of violence surrounding the march.

On Wednesday the inquiry heard 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 was stopped there would be violence and it would lead to other similar demonstrations.

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

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See also:

29 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Inquiry hears of police-army dispute
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
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