15/03/2002

Bloody Sunday families react to Lord Kilclooney's evidence

Claims by Ulster Unionist Lord Kilclooney that those who were killed by British Paratroopers on Bloody Sunday were armed have been greeted by the families and wounded as “hurtful” but “significant”.

The statement made on their behalf claims that Lord Kilclooney’s evidence to the Inquiry indicates the Stormont government of the time - in which the unionist peer was a junior minister in 1972 - was a "puppet" of Westminster.

The statement, released on Friday 15 March, said: “Despite the hurtful remarks from John Taylor in his oral evidence at the Inquiry yesterday, that 13 of those killed on Bloody Sunday were gunmen and that the people of Derry "drank and celebrated" the shooting of 27 people in the City that day, the Families and Wounded regard his evidence as being particularly significant.

“Whilst not downplaying the role of the Joint Security Committee in security and operational policy at Stormont, Taylor’s evidence clearly demonstrates that the Northern Ireland government was a mere puppet regime and that the political and security administration in Whitehall had direct and ultimate responsibility for the planning and conduct of the shoot to kill operation that was executed on Bloody Sunday.”

The peer - former MP, John Taylor - told the Saville Inquiry on Thursday 14 March that "13 armed men" were shot dead on Bloody Sunday.

Asked by Michael Lavery QC, counsel for most of the families of those killed and injured, if he believed 13 gunmen had been killed, Lord Kilclooney replied: "Oh yes, I believe that, yes and still do."

The former UUP deputy leader also told the Saville Inquiry that the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) had been infiltrated by republicans. He claimed: "The organisation was used as a cover for terrorists". (AMcE)

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