The main findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry

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The findings of the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday turned the discredited 1972 Widgery report on its head.

It exonerated the victims and delivered a damning account of the conduct of soldiers, concluding they had fired more than 100 rifle rounds and were unjustified in killed 13 people on the day and injuring more.

Here are some key findings and extracts from the Saville report:

– “The firing by soldiers of 1 Para caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury.

– “We found no instances where it appeared to us that soldiers either were or might have been justified in firing.”

– “Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers.”

– The report added that no-one threw, or threatened to throw, nail or petrol bombs at soldiers.

– The explanations given by soldiers to the inquiry were rejected, with a number said to have “knowingly put forward false accounts”.

– Members of the Official IRA fired a shot at troops, but missed their target, though it was concluded it was the paratroopers who shot first on Bloody Sunday.

– The report recounted how some soldiers had their weapons cocked in contravention of guidelines, and that no warnings were issued by paratroopers who opened fire.

– Speculation that unknown IRA gunmen had been wounded or killed by troops, and their bodies spirited away, was also dismissed. There was no evidence to support it and it would surely have come to light, the report said.

– The late Martin McGuinness, a former IRA commander and Stormont deputy first minister, who was second in command of the Provisional IRA in Derry in 1972, was “probably armed with a Thompson submachine gun” at one point in the day, and though it is possible he fired the weapon, this cannot be proved.

But the report concluded: “He did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire.”

– Nail bombs had been found in the pockets of 17-year-old Gerald Donaghey, sparking claims they were planted by security forces. The report concludes the nail bombs were “probably” in his possession when he was shot, but adds: “However we are sure that Gerald Donaghey was not preparing or attempting to throw a nail bomb when he was shot; and we are equally sure that he was not shot because of his possession of nail bombs. He was shot while trying to escape from soldiers.”

– Lord Saville concluded that the commander of land forces in Northern Ireland, Major General Robert Ford, would have been aware that the Parachute Regiment had a reputation for using excessive force. But he would not have believed there was a risk of paratroopers firing unjustifiably.

– The commanding officer of the paratroopers, Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford, disobeyed an order from a superior officer not to enter troops into the nationalist Bogside estate; while Lord Saville found his superior, Brigadier Patrick MacLellan, held no blame for the shootings since if he had known what Col Wilford was intending, he might well have called it off.

– No blame was placed on the organisers of the march, the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.

– Neither the UK nor Northern Ireland governments planned or foresaw the use of unnecessary lethal force.

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