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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Concern over Bloody Sunday guns
Only three guns thought to have been fired remain
Only three guns thought to have been fired remain
A lawyer for the Bloody Sunday inquiry has expressed concern that two rifles thought to have been fired on that day were destroyed by the army.

The Ministry of Defence admitted in January they had destroyed two guns which it had specifically promised the inquiry would be kept safe.

The new inquiry into the deaths of 14 people who were shot by British paratroopers at a civil rights march in Londonderry on 13 January 1972, which started last week, is expected to run for two years in the Guildhall, Londonderry.

Counsel for inquiry Michael Clarke, QC, said it was "a matter for very considerable concern" that two weapons were destroyed after the inquiry asked for them to be preserved and a bar placed on their movement from storage in Donington.

Mr Clarke, who is presenting all of the evidence which the inquiry has gathered has so far made little comment on the evidence.

'Computer fault blamed'

Mr Clarke said the matter was being investigated by MoD police and the West Mercia Constabulary, but that initial investigations had shown the fault may have originated with the MoD's computer system.

He said that when a request is made to the MoD not to destroy a particular weapon, a warning only appears on its computer system after the weapon has actually been destroyed.

A total of 29 rifles believed to have been fired on Bloody Sunday were submitted to the first tribunal into Bloody Sunday, conducted by Lord Widgery, for examination and testing.

When the current Saville inquiry wrote to the MoD last October, the MoD said 22 of those guns had been had been given to companies for destruction and two had gone to a company for sale.

Two of the remaining weapons were destroyed in February.

Inquiry hears of 'premonitions'

Mr Clarke also said he wanted to deal with another section of evidence, which came under the heading of 'premonitions.'

He said some witnesses had a sense of foreboding before the Bloody Sunday march because they said they were told "with some belligerence" by paratroops at a march at Magiligan Strand the previous weekend that they would "see them next week".

There was also evidence from a priest, father Anthony Mulvey, who has since died, who spoke to a woman on the morning of bloody Sunday.

He urged her not to go to the march, and when she asked him why, he said he was carrying his extra munction oils, which are only used to administer the last rites to the dead or dying.

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See also:

31 Jan 00 | Northern Ireland
Bloody Sunday gun claims anger lawyer
30 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
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Challenges facing the Saville inquiry
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The reporter's story
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