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Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

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1 G60.365-366 3 G59A.363.1-4

2 G59A.363.1

9.183 On the same day Brian Faulkner publicly announced the continuation of the ban on marches for a further period of 12 months from the expiry of the existing order on 8th February 1972.1This met with strong protests from both communities. Nationalists and civil rights campaigners complained that the ban was an attack on civil liberties and an attempt to repress the new campaign of protest marches. Many unionists and loyalists were angered because, in their perception, the unequal implementation of the measure effectively discriminated against their law-abiding community by prohibiting traditional Loyal Order processions while nationalists were seemingly allowed to march in defiance of the ban with impunity. In Parliament, Brian Faulkner’s decision was criticised by Dr Ian Paisley, William Craig and two of his own backbench MPs.2

1 G82.516 2 G71E.444.10; G71E.444.13; G71E.444.15; G81B.511.8; OS4.120

The Home Secretary’s memorandum

9.184 Also on 18th January 1972 the Home Secretary Reginald Maudling circulated a memorandum entitled “Northern Ireland – Policy for 1972”.1This stated that there were only three alternatives, namely to continue on present lines, to seek other Catholic representatives with whom it would be possible to negotiate a settlement, or to devise a solution of their own and ensure that it was carried out, by agreement if possible, but if necessary by direction.2

1 G59C.363.8-12 2G59C.363.8

9.185 The Home Secretary dismissed the first two of these alternatives as not providing the basis for any long-term solution.1As to the third, he suggested that there were two prime considerations, namely the total opposition of the Protestants to the disappearance of the border (and their fears that this would be forced on them by the United Kingdom Government), and the fact that the Catholic community were no longer prepared to be second-class citizens.2A further difficulty was that the communities did not agree on the common purpose of maintaining the integrity of the state, a factor that qualified the utility of a comparative analysis with political solutions devised in other countries with communal problems.3Reginald Maudling argued that while it was unlikely that the majority of Catholics wanted union with the Republic, they were united in demands for formal legal assurances against discrimination and a system that allowed the minority community to participate in the government of the Province.4 Any initiative would have to meet these demands while assuaging Protestant fears.5 He therefore suggested that a solution would have to comprise three elements, these being reassurance about the border, a change in the composition of government and a redefinition of the powers of government.6 Reginald Maudling noted that: “It is easy to find [a suitable system] in logic, but terribly hard to find one that will work in practice.”7

1 G59C.363.8-9

2 G59C.363.9

3 G59C.363.9

4 G59C.363.9
5 G59C.363.9

6 G59C.363.10

7 G59C.363.9


9.186 On the border question, Reginald Maudling suggested legislation precluding a change in the border without a plebiscite, with one to be held in 15 to 20 years’ time, and thereafter at ten-yearly intervals.1 However, he acknowledged that this would not actually represent an additional safeguard: the principle of consent had been enshrined in the Ireland Act 1949, and as no Parliament could bind its successors there was no guarantee that the plebiscites would be held, or indeed that a future government would not repeal this Act and allow union with the Republic.2As to a change in the composition of government, he suggested legislation to provide for minority participation in the executive, and rejected the argument that you could not have a forced coalition between those who believed in the continuation of the state and those who believed that it should disappear.3Reginald Maudling was less definite about altering the powers of the Northern Ireland Government. Although he felt that the structures in the Province should be closer to those prevailing in the rest of the United Kingdom (at a time when there were no devolved assemblies or parliaments in Wales and Scotland), he did not advocate the abolition of Stormont on the grounds that this would be “unwise emotionally”.4 However, on the “basic issue” of law and order, he wrote that he was “becoming increasingly of the belief” that responsibility for these matters should be transferred from Stormont to Westminster.5

1 G59C.363.10

2 G59C.363.10

3 G59C.363.10
4 G59C.363.11

5 G59C.363.11


9.187 Reginald Maudling’s memorandum concluded that if progress could not be made by agreement, the present method of government should be suspended in favour of a commission until the necessary political set-up had been established.1Such a period of transition would be, he conceded, indistinguishable in practice from direct rule.2 Reginald Maudling acknowledged that the effects that his proposals would have on the security situation were difficult to predict; he did not envisage that it would lead the IRA to call off its campaign, but he thought it unlikely (although not impossible) that “the Protestants would turn to violence”.3 He concluded by writing that his suggestions represented “a dangerous course to take, but all courses in Northern Ireland are dangerous and it could be that persevering as we are at present was the most dangerous course of all”.4

1 G59C.363.11

2 G59C.363.11
3 G59C.363.11-12

4 G59C.363.12


The Policy Instruction relating to marches

9.188 On 19th January 1972 a Policy Instruction was issued to all brigades concerning the attitude to be taken by the RUC and the Army in respect of breaches of the ban on marching.1 The covering letter stated that the new instructions were to take immediate effect. It also recorded that identical instructions were being issued simultaneously to the RUC as a Force Order.2 The new instruction reflected the proposals contained in the Army paper discussed at the JSC meeting of 13th January and stated that (except in the case of funerals) it was “essential that the prohibition be strictly enforced”.3

1 G59.361-363

2 G59.361-363
3 G59.362


9.189 The Instruction set out the action that the security forces were to take when the prohibition on marches was defied. The sections most relevant for the purposes of this Inquiry are reproduced below:1

“(1) If the police become aware of an intention to hold a procession by any person(s) they should contact the persons whom they have reason to believe to be involved and warn them of the prohibition on processions and the severe penalties which are possible under the relevant acts.

(2) Except in the case of funerals, it is essential that the prohibition be strictly enforced and the necessary prior Police/Army planning should take place to ensure that the persons concerned know what action will follow should the procession take place. A detailed joint Police/Army plan will be made in respect of each procession.

(3) If persons assemble to take part in the parade, the obvious organisers or leaders should again be seen and their attention drawn to the prohibition on processions.

(4) When the parade forms up, the Divisional Commander or some person delegated by him, should address the assembled persons by loudhailer or P/A equipment, draw their attention to the prohibition and order them to disperse forthwith. The demand to disperse forthwith should be made by a member of the RUC not below the rank of Inspector or any Commissioned Officer of HM Forces on duty who suspects that any assembly of three or more persons may:

a. Lead to a breach of the peace.

b. Serious public disorder.

c. Or make undue demands upon the Police Force or HM Forces.



(5) If the assembled persons fail to disperse, the police should normally form a cordon, sited in accordance with the joint Police/Army plan and consisting of lines of policemen with linked arms across the path of the parade, supplemented as necessary by physical barriers. It will be normal for the cordon to block the path of the parade completely and where necessary, alternative routes should also be closed.

Dispersal arrangements for the procession must however be taken into account. In the event of the police cordon being forcibly broken by the procession, Army action will follow in accordance with the pre-arranged plan referred to in (2) above.

(6) The powers of arrest under the Public Order Act should be exercised at the time, if practicable, by the RUC. Uniformed and plain clothed police must in any case identify as many persons as possible taking part in the procession and note their degree of involvement. Arrests under the Public Order Act will not be carried out by the Army, but should it be necessary for the Army to make any arrests, they will do so under Regulation 11 of the Special Powers Act on suspicion of committing acts prejudicial to the peace or of having committed an offence against the Regulations.

(7) Circumstances will largely dictate subsequent police action but they will co-operate with the Army in all possible ways, eg, arrest of persons guilty of disorderly behaviour or other offences: removal of arrested persons from the scene and their processing at reception Centres etc.



Prior liaison between the Police and the Army authorities is extremely important in order that the latter can be fully briefed on the danger potential of any threatened procession and made aware of the Divisional Commander’s opinion on the question of Army presence.”


1 G59.362-363

9.190 It was suggested to this Inquiry on behalf of one family that this policy instruction represented a “united and ruthless” policy and the taking off of “‘kid gloves’” with regard to marches.1
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

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1 FS4.47

9.191 These are emotive words. It is clear that both the Westminster and Stormont governments were anxious to ensure that the ban was enforced in order to avoid both unionist resentment at the apparent ease with which nationalist and civil rights groups could flout the prohibition, and the consequent risk of a proliferation of illegal marches leading to increased pressure on the security forces. They also wished to counter the perception that the RUC and the Army were unable to enforce the law. There was, however, no suggestion that illegal or disproportionate methods should be employed to enforce the ban, the emphasis being not only to take firmer steps to stop illegal marches but also to improve the warning, arrest and prosecution of those alleged to have broken the law.

Meeting of the GEN 47 Committee on 20th January 1972

9.192 The GEN 47 Committee met again on 20th January 1972.1General Sir Michael Carver reported that the number of shooting incidents and explosions in Belfast and Londonderry was down and that there had been an encouraging number of arrests of Provisional and Official IRA “officers”.2There was also lengthy discussion of the memorandum prepared by the Home Secretary.3Once again the point was made that the successes of the Army against the terrorists might make it desirable to seize the opportunity for a political initiative before the Catholics on the one hand became irrevocably alienated, or the Protestants on the other hand reverted to an unyielding attitude against what they would regard as a beaten minority.4It was also observed that Londonderry could not be permitted to continue indefinitely in its present state.5 However, while broadly sympathetic to the Home Secretary’s plan, the members of the committee raised a plethora of concerns over the risks and associated problems involved, and the manuscript minutes record Lord Balniel as expressing the views of Lord Carrington (with which he did not agree) that the preferred option represented a “tremendous gamble” and a “risk probably not worth taking”.6The Prime Minister, summing up the discussion, observed that much essential detailed work was in hand, for example the preparation of outlines of legislation and identifying possible members of a commission should that form of government become inevitable.7It was left that GEN 47 would meet the following week to consider further the questions raised by the Home Secretary’s memorandum.8

1 INQ1.401-409; G62.374-376; G62AA.376.1.1-3

2 G62.376

3 INQ1.406-409

4 INQ1.408
5 INQ1.408

6 G62AA.376.1.2

7 INQ1.409

8 INQ1.409


The Joint Intelligence Committee meeting on 20th January 1972

9.193 On the same day, the Joint Intelligence Committee of the United Kingdom Government met and approved their weekly Special Assessment on events in Northern Ireland. This recorded that the rural areas of the Province had been comparatively quiet and violence in Belfast had remained at about the same level as in the immediate past, but there had been “rather more trouble in and around Londonderry where makeshift mortars have recently been used to project nail bombs”.1In attacks against off-duty members of the security forces, an RUC reservist (in West Belfast) and a UDR soldier (in Antrim) had been killed, and a police constable had been seriously injured. The assessment also recorded that while the transfer of detainees to Magilligan had passed without incident, the opening of the new camp was already serving as an additional focus for discontent in the Londonderry area and had given a new momentum to the anti-internment campaign. The opposition to the extension of the ban on marches was noted, as was the intention of NICRA to hold a march in Londonderry from the Creggan to the Guildhall Square on 30th January.2

1 G62A.376.2 2 G62A.376.1-3

Meeting of the Joint Security Committee on 20th January 1972

9.194 The JSC also met on 20th January 1972.1It considered the Special Branch Assessment for the period ending 19th January 1972.2Paragraph 16 of the assessment (to which we have referred above) recorded that:

“Rioting and hooliganism has been a week-end feature in Londonderry where community feeling continues to run high against the Army. Throughout the period the terrorist elements and particularly the gunmen, have been active, shooting at the Army on several occasions. This activity is believed to have been sponsored jointly by both I.R.A. groups in the city. The apparent strategic policy of the I.R.A. in Londonderry is to continue alternating destruction by explosives and arson in a creeping infringement in towards the City Centre. Buildings previously severely damaged are set on fire, so spreading the area of destruction, buildings vacated as a result of these fires are later attacked with explosives.”


1 G63.377-379 2 G64.383

9.195 The assessment can be compared with the oral evidence of Martin McGuinness to this Inquiry. Martin McGuinness, who was then the Adjutant in the Derry Brigade of the Provisional IRA, stated that at the time of Bloody Sunday: “the primary purpose of the [Provisional] IRA was to attack the British Army and those military forces supporting them and there was also a strategy in place in the centre of Derry to attack business premises in order to stretch the British Army and to gain maximum advantage over what were undoubtedly superior – numerically, that is – military forces”.1 It appears therefore that the assessment was reasonably accurate, at least insofar as it reflected the policy of the Provisional IRA.

1 Day 390/34

9.196 The minutes of the JSC discussion on this point record:1

“Hooligan activity in Londonderry was a continuing worry. The GOC said the Army were dealing with the problem as best they could employing a variety of tactics within the constraints of the law. Their operations in the city against the IRA have been very successful of late – 50 gunmen killed or injured during the last 2½ months – and they would aim to maintain this rate of attrition.”


1 G63.377

9.197 It was suggested to this Inquiry on behalf of one family that the reference to “‘within the constraints of the law’” may indicate that General Tuzo had appreciated that General Ford’s suggestion to shoot selected ringleaders could not lawfully be adopted.1 This may be the case but it is equally likely that this was simply a general reference to the fact that the Army was obliged to act within the law.

1 FS4.48

9.198 The main concern at this meeting, according to the minutes, was the proposed anti-internment march in Armagh on Saturday 22nd January 1972. The GOC and the Chief Constable confirmed that there would be a strong Army and police presence and that the march would be stopped. Brian Faulkner emphasised the importance of doing this effectively, as Protestant and Catholic attitudes to the continuing ban would be vitally influenced by the outcome. The meeting was also told that a rally of the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, a loyalist grouping, was scheduled as a counter to the march. As this proposed event was neither a march nor a procession it was not automatically prohibited, and a decision would have to be taken specifically to ban the rally in order to prevent it going ahead. The Committee accepted the police view, based on what were described as tactical grounds, that this step should not be taken.1

1 G63.377-378

9.199 The Committee approved the terms of an announcement to be made about the proposed march in the following terms:1

“‘The Joint Security Committee considered at its Meeting this morning the procession planned for Armagh on Saturday, 22 January, by a body calling itself the ‘Civil Resistance Committee’.

In his statement to Parliament on 18 January the Prime Minister made it clear that, where the security forces deem it necessary in the interests of public safety, they will use such physical means as may be required to prevent a parade from proceeding.

Any procession in Armagh on Saturday would be in breach of the law, and those taking part would be committing an offence. The security forces will use physical measures to prevent any such parade from proceeding, in accordance with the general policy already laid down’.”


1 G63.378

9.200 On 21st January 1972 the Official Committee on Northern Ireland (the committee comprising senior United Kingdom civil servants from departments concerned with Northern Ireland) met and discussed the possible form and structure for inter-party talks. A proposal on how to proceed emerged for ministerial approval, which envisaged talks starting in early February 1972 between senior figures from the Government and the (Labour) Opposition (possibly with the added presence of the leader of the Liberal Party). It was hoped that these would lead to agreement on a bipartisan approach, which could then be employed when the talks were broadened to include the Northern Ireland parties. In a related discussion, the committee considered the reform plan put forward in the Home Secretary’s memorandum of 18th January, and agreed areas for further research.1

1 G68B.434.1.1-3

9.201 On the same day, according to the evidence given to this Inquiry by Colonel Ferguson, then Officer Commanding 22 Lt AD Regt in Londonderry, he discussed the march planned for 30th January with Brian Faulkner and his wife at a social function. Brian Faulkner twice expressed his hope that everything was under control, and Lucy Faulkner told Colonel Ferguson that the situation that occurred when protesters marched along the motorway without being stopped could not be repeated. It is unclear whether she was referring to the Christmas Day march on the M1, the Falls Park marches of 2nd January or a combination of both events, or whether Colonel Ferguson’s memory of the detail of the conversation is slightly erroneous. However, Colonel Ferguson did recall that Brian Faulkner apparently nodded in agreement, and that as a result of this discussion he, Colonel Ferguson, became “very conscious of the political significance of the march [on 30th January]”.1
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1 B1122.9

The march to Magilligan Strand

9.202 On Saturday 22nd January 1972 an anti-internment march took place to the newly opened Internment Centre at Magilligan Strand. The march was organised by the North Derry Civil Rights Association. The demonstrators marched down a private lane and then along Magilligan beach, intending to reach the internment camp itself. Since the march did not take place on a public road, it was probably not unlawful. Army estimates of the number of demonstrators present varied between 600–700 and 1,500.1

1 G69A.436.001; G74B.458.7

9.203 Magilligan Strand is situated about eight miles north-east of Londonderry.



9.204 The boundary of the internment camp was marked by a barbed wire fence, which extended onto the beach and ran down to the high water mark. On 22nd January 1972, the fence along the beach was manned by members of the RUC and also by members of C Company of 1 PARA, who were under the command of 2 RGJ. The demonstrators were told by a senior police officer that they would not be permitted to go beyond the wire fence.

9.205 As the tide receded, a gap appeared between the fence and the sea. Many of the marchers walked around the end of the fence and into the prohibited area beyond it. Some, according to the HQNI report, threw stones at the soldiers and police officers who were behind the wire.1 The soldiers drove the demonstrators back, firing rubber bullets and then making a baton charge. According to 1 PARA’s photographer (Lance Corporal INQ 1970, who was present) it was soldiers of C Company of 1 PARA who carried out the baton charge.2 As the demonstrators withdrew, they set fire to a hut and to the Golden Slipper Ballroom, which was a building near to the marchers’ original assembly point.3

1 G74B.458.8 3 G74B.458.8

2 C1970.5

9.206 Journalists filmed the clashes between demonstrators and soldiers at Magilligan Strand. Allegations of brutality and of the use of unnecessary force by members of 1 PARA were reported widely on television and in the press.

9.207 Nigel Wade of the Daily Telegraph newspaper was present at Magilligan Strand. In his statement to this Inquiry he described seeing paratroopers firing baton rounds into the chests of marchers at very close range. Nigel Wade recalled seeing non-commissioned officers (NCOs) using riot sticks to control their own men and seeing one NCO beating a soldier so hard in an attempt to get the soldier to disengage from the marchers that the stick broke.1

1 M79.13

9.208 On 25th January 1972 the Derry Journal newspaper printed photographs of a civilian, Christopher McNicholl, being dragged through the water by a soldier and, bleeding from a head wound, being given assistance by an RUC officer.1 The Daily Mail newspaper on 24th January 1972 printed Christopher McNicholl’s account of events. He said that he had gone to the assistance of an old man who was being hit with batons by three soldiers. A soldier had hit him on the head, causing him to fall into the water. As one soldier dragged him away, another had kicked him repeatedly.2

1 L10.2 2 L6.4

9.209 Film footage taken at Magilligan Strand, showing a soldier kicking a man on the ground, was broadcast on television. It is likely that the incident shown was the one involving Christopher McNicholl. An Army investigation was carried out into the televised incident. Colonel Wilford told the Widgery Inquiry that it was found that a soldier had kicked a man but also found that the soldier could justifiably have lost his temper.1

1 WT11.58

9.210 In evidence to this Inquiry, Private INQ 12, a member of C Company of 1 PARA, admitted that he had been the subject of the investigation to which Colonel Wilford had referred. His recollection was that he had kicked the man in an attempt to free his legs, which were being held by the man on the ground. He said that he was cleared at a disciplinary hearing.1

1 Day 351/2

9.211 Captain INQ 573, the Adjutant of 2 RGJ who was present at Magilligan Strand, gave evidence to this Inquiry. He recalled seeing “what I took to be an awful lot of unnecessary violence by the Paras, including baton swinging”. He described intervening to stop two Parachute Regiment soldiers from striking a man and a woman who were lying on the ground. He said he thought at the time that “it looked like the Paras had got out of control”.1

1 C573.2

9.212 Lance Corporal INQ 1970 recalled that members of C Company of 1 PARA:1

“... were using their rifle butts on the crowd and gave them a good hiding on the beach, they put the boot in. A Green Jacket officer hit a Para with a baton, shouting at him that he was an animal ... Everyone was horrified at the brutality of Paras against stone throwers.”


1 C1970.5

9.213 Lance Corporal INQ 1970 provided to this Inquiry photographs, one of which showed a soldier using a rifle butt as a club.1
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1 C1970.5

9.213 Lance Corporal INQ 1970 provided to this Inquiry photographs, one of which showed a soldier using a rifle butt as a club.1

1 C1970.16



9.214 Colin Wallace, who in January 1972 was a civilian Army public relations officer based at HQNI, gave evidence to this Inquiry that unionist politicians took an entirely different view of events at Magilligan Strand and were furious at the apparent inability of the Parachute Regiment to deal effectively with the marchers. His recollection was that the Stormont Government was very concerned about the adverse reaction of Protestants who saw on television images of apparently illegal marches unchecked by the security forces. Colin Wallace stated that complaints from Unionist politicians to Downing Street led to the Ministry of Defence issuing a directive to the effect that the scenes such as those at Magilligan should never again appear on television screens.1

1 KW2.7

9.215 No documents have been found that provide support for this evidence of Colin Wallace. The only documents that Colin Wallace recalled seeing were two telegrams sent by Donald Maitland, the Prime Minister’s Chief Press Secretary, to Clifford Hill, the United Kingdom Government’s Press Liaison Officer in Northern Ireland. The Tribunal has seen these telegrams, neither of which refers to events at Magilligan Strand or suggests disquiet about any previous inability on the part of the Army to deal with marchers.1 The press reports available to the Inquiry do not suggest that there was any public perception of a lack of action on the part of the Parachute Regiment at Magilligan Strand.

1 G91.551; G90.549

9.216 In evidence to this Inquiry, Edward Heath and Lord Carrington both said that they had no recollection of having been concerned about events at Magilligan Strand.1 On 26th January 1972 Sir Burke Trend sent to Edward Heath a briefing note for the GEN 47 meeting that was to take place on the following day. In that note he suggested that Edward Heath might like to raise with Lord Carrington the allegations made in the press and on television to the effect that the Parachute Regiment had overreacted at Magilligan Strand and had thereby provoked resentment among the peaceful elements of the Roman Catholic population.2 This suggestion is inconsistent with the proposition that Downing Street was displeased with the Army’s failure to take firm control of the march. Further, both Edward Heath and Lord Carrington told this Inquiry that the subject was not in fact raised.3

1 Day 282/127; Day 280/38

2 G75CA.462.5.4
3 KH4.89; Day 282/131; Day 291/29; Day 280/43


9.217 In these circumstances, we are of the view that we cannot rely on Colin Wallace’s evidence on this point. We consider that his recollection in this regard is faulty.

9.218 We are not required to make findings as to the justification or lack of it for the soldiers’ actions at Magilligan Strand. In any event we have not heard sufficient evidence to enable us to do so. However, the fact that such allegations were made, not only by civilians but by members of the Royal Green Jackets, forms an important part of the background to Bloody Sunday. Many of those who marched on 30th January 1972, and many of those responsible for policing and containing that march, were aware of the allegations concerning the conduct of C Company of 1 PARA at Magilligan Strand. The perceptions of civilians about events at Magilligan Strand clearly influenced the conduct of many of them on 30th January 1972, in some cases causing them to join the march and in other cases to join in the rioting. The important point is that many, particularly those on the march, believed that 1 PARA had acted in an unacceptably violent way at Magilligan Strand. Their view of events at Magilligan Strand in turn reinforced their belief that the Army was simply a tool of the unionist government being used to subjugate them. As will be seen later in this report,1 these views led more people to riot or to riot more violently.

1 Chapter 14

9.219 It should be borne in mind that it was C Company of 1 PARA whose conduct at Magilligan Strand led to allegations of brutality. As will be seen from our consideration of the events of 30th January 1972, this company was deployed in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday as part of the arrest operation, but soldiers of this company did not shoot anyone on that day.

9.220 After the incident at Magilligan Strand the North Derry Civil Rights Association issued a statement, which was reported in the Derry Journal newspaper on 25th January 1972. In the statement, the Association condemned the violence displayed by the soldiers at Magilligan Strand and stated that this would only serve to strengthen the resolve of the people of Derry to march in peaceful protest on 30th January.1

1 L10.1

9.221 Some in the Army also held the view that there had been undue violence at Magilligan Strand. Captain INQ 573 attended the regimental investigation into the conduct of Private INQ 12 and gave evidence of such violence.1 Further, as will be seen later in this report, a junior officer of 2 RGJ, Second Lieutenant 136, told his platoon when giving them their orders for 30th January, “S.F. [security forces] must be strictly controlled. The right behaviour is very important. No repeat of Magilligan.”2

1 C573.2; Day 314/104 2 G95C.580.7

9.222 The evidence of Colonel David Ramsbotham, who in January 1972 was the military assistant to General Carver, the CGS, was that Lieutenant Colonel Welsh (the commanding officer of 2 RGJ) telephoned him after the Magilligan Strand march and expressed concern about the proposed use of 1 PARA on 30th January. According to Colonel Ramsbotham, Colonel Welsh stated that 1 PARA, used as shock troops in Belfast and having had to be warned at Magilligan that they needed to behave differently in Londonderry, were the wrong soldiers to bring into the Londonderry operation.1

1 KR2.4

9.223 The two officers belonged to the same battalion and knew each other well. Colonel Ramsbotham said that Colonel Welsh was calling to pass on information as an old friend and was not seeking to have his concerns relayed to General Carver. Colonel Ramsbotham said that he did in fact mention the conversation to General Carver, who took the view that deployment of troops on 30th January was a matter for the Northern Ireland command.1 Colonel Welsh denied in evidence to this Inquiry that the conversation with Colonel Ramsbotham had taken place.2

1 Day 254/123-124; Day 254/171 2 Day 282/66

9.224 Colonel Ramsbotham appeared to have a precise memory of the call. Further, the views that he recalled Colonel Welsh expressing are views that we know that Colonel Welsh did in fact hold at the time. In the circumstances, we prefer Colonel Ramsbotham’s recollection of events.

9.225 It was submitted to us on behalf of some of the families1 that 1 PARA was chosen as the arrest force on 30th January either because of or in spite of the conduct of C Company at Magilligan Strand.

1 FS1.716

9.226 There is nothing to indicate that General Ford’s decision to use 1 PARA as an arrest force on 30th January had anything to do with the conduct of the paratroopers at Magilligan Strand. As early as 10th January 1972, General Ford had proposed an unspecified role for 1 PARA for the march (at that time scheduled to take place on 16th January). We consider below whether the conduct of C Company at Magilligan Strand should have caused General Ford not to use 1 PARA as an arrest force on Bloody Sunday.

9.227 On 25th January 1972, the Guardian newspaper published an article by Simon Hoggart, in which it was alleged that Army officers in Northern Ireland had asked that the Parachute Regiment be kept out of their areas. We deal in more detail below with this allegation. In the article Simon Hoggart referred to the regimental inquiry into allegations of brutality at Magilligan Strand.1
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1 L7-L9

9.228 In his oral evidence to us, General Ford said that he had been unaware of any complaint made by a Royal Green Jackets officer of the conduct of 1 PARA at Magilligan Strand; he also said that he “did not particularly take note of what was in the newspapers”.1 However, in his written evidence to this Inquiry, General Ford told us that he would almost certainly have been made aware of Simon Hoggart’s article at the time. His recollection is correct; he was quoted in the Times newspaper on 26th January 1972, in an article that reported the Guardian’s allegations, as expressing “complete confidence” in 1 PARA. According to the Times, General Ford said that 1 PARA had an excellent record and that he would have no hesitation in using the unit in any part of the Province.2 This report is consistent with General Ford’s evidence to this Inquiry that neither the article nor any adverse comment about the conduct of 1 PARA at Magilligan Strand would have influenced him in making operational decisions. He said that he had complete confidence in the professional abilities of 1 PARA and felt that they were capable of dealing with any situation.3

1 Day 258/78 3 B1208.032

2 L15.2

9.229 There is no evidence that General Ford knew of the concerns expressed by Colonel Welsh, whose views reached the CGS. However, it is clear that General Ford knew, when selecting 1 PARA for duty on 30th January 1972, of allegations that paratroopers had behaved brutally at Magilligan Strand. The behaviour of the soldiers attracted a substantial amount of bad publicity. We take the view that he was also likely to have known of the regimental inquiry into the conduct of Private INQ 12, which took place immediately after the incident at Magilligan Strand.

9.230 As we discuss later in this chapter, shortly after the Magilligan Strand incident General Ford selected 1 PARA to operate as an arrest force in connection with the civil rights march planned for 30th January. The question arises as to whether in view of the allegations of brutality at Magilligan Strand General Ford can be criticised for deciding to use 1 PARA. This is a matter to which we return below.

The civil rights march in Armagh on 22nd January 1972

9.231 A civil rights march took place in Armagh on 22nd January 1972. The march (of about 300 people) was prevented from reaching its intended destination in Gaol Square, where what was described in official reports as a group of 30–40 Protestants or loyalists had gathered for a meeting. The majority of the anti-internment marchers returned to their starting point for a public rally, but there was some stoning of the security forces and several arrests.1

1 G71E.444.12; G74C.458.11; G70B.441.4

Marches on 23rd January 1972

9.232 There were further marches on 23rd January 1972. At Lurgan two groups converged and attempted to march to the town centre; official reports varied as to whether both groups comprised 300 people each, or whether one was a group of 300 people and the other a group of 150. In any event, the marches were stopped by troops, who were stoned and who used CS gas and baton rounds in response.1 At Castlewellan a crowd of some 200–300 was prevented or dissuaded from marching to the nearby town of Newcastle. Instead the marchers drove there and with others attended a rally of around 800 people. When this concluded an attempt was made to march through the town, but this was stopped after a few hundred yards by the security forces.2 According to General Tuzo’s report for Brian Faulkner there was some resistance from a number of marchers and stoning followed, leading the security forces to discharge eight rounds of CS gas (after issuing a warning), and to make three arrests and 40–50 identifications.3 The Director of Operations Intelligence Committee’s Assessment and HQNI’s IntSum both contain less detailed accounts of the same incident that did not report the rioting and instead commented that the crowd dispersed peacefully.4

1 G74D.458.12; G71E.444.12; G80.489

2 G74E.458.14; G71E.444.12
3 G74E.458.14

4 G71E.444.12


Ministry of Defence Current Situation Reports

9.233 In the aftermath of the weekend marches, Anthony Stephens, the head of DS10, circulated the 61st Current Situation Report.1 Anthony Stephens told this Inquiry that the documents in this series were intended to draw together information from various sources to provide ministers and officials with “a fleeting picture of what had occurred in the past 24 hours”,2 and if possible to give an indication of situations that might arise in the immediate future.3 In the week before Bloody Sunday a Current Situation Report was produced on each working day.4

1 G70B.441.3-5

2 Day 273/109

3 KS3.101-102; Day 273/108-110
4 G70B.441.3-5 (No 61, Monday 24th January);
G71.442-444 (62, Tuesday 25th January);
G73.454-456 (63, Wednesday 26th January);
G84.528 (64, Thursday 27th January);
G87.534-536 (65, Friday 28th January)


9.234 The MoD Current Situation Report for 24th January 1972 recorded that over the weekend at Armagh, Magilligan Strand, Newry and Castlewellan/Newcastle the security forces “were able to ensure that nothing which could be described as a march developed”.1 However, this was not how some unionist groups saw it. Newspapers published on the same day reported a statement from a committee representing the most prominent Loyal Orders that suggested that their members might defy the ban, which they felt was unjustified and applied in a discriminatory fashion.2

1 G70B.441.4 2 OS4.163; OS4.119

Brussels meeting between Edward Heath and Jack Lynch on 23rd January 1972

9.235 On Sunday 23rd January 1972 Edward Heath met the Taoiseach (Jack Lynch) in Brussels where they were present to sign the Treaty of Accession to the European Economic Community.1 At this meeting Jack Lynch expressed much the same view as had been voiced in United Kingdom Government circles over the previous weeks, namely that a point was being approached for some sort of initiative towards a political solution, since the IRA might be in the process of suffering a major setback from the actions of the security forces, while the Protestants might still be sufficiently alarmed to be prepared to contemplate change. Jack Lynch said he feared that if violence was defeated and there was no political solution, the unionists would simply freeze their position and the possibility of some reconciliation would be lost.2 He did not think that the minority community would be satisfied with Brian Faulkner’s proposals to reform parliamentary committees; instead they would require a share of the responsibilities of executive government.3 Jack Lynch urged Edward Heath to signal to Brian Faulkner that “it was no longer possible to retain the status quo at Stormont”,4 and talked of launching a political initiative along these lines himself.5 He also called on the United Kingdom Government to consider a “change of direction” on internment in order to help to entice the minority community towards supporting a political solution.6

1 G70F.441.16-28

2 G70F.441.18-19

3 G70F.441.26
4 G70F.441.25

5 G70F.441.27

6 G70F.441.21


9.236 In response, Edward Heath was non-committal as to the United Kingdom Government’s position and reiterated his understanding that Brian Faulkner would be willing to discuss any potential solution that did not threaten the integrity of the border. In a memorandum that accompanied his note on the talks, Robert Armstrong, the Prime Minister’s Principal Private Secretary, commented on the difficulty that the United Kingdom delegation had in following Jack Lynch’s proposals, partly because the Taoiseach had a heavy cold, but also because his ideas were “hazy and far from fully developed”.1

1 G70F.441.16-17

Visit of the Chief of the Defence Staff on 24th January 1972

9.237 On 24th January 1972 the CDS, Admiral Sir Peter Hill-Norton, visited Northern Ireland, where he met General Tuzo, General Ford and the Director of Intelligence, David. According to the minutes of this meeting prepared by Colonel Dalzell-Payne, head of MO4, the Military Operations branch within the MoD that dealt with Northern Ireland, the GOC made a number of points, including the following:1

“a. The attrition operation is going well. It is designed to make the IRA desist and the policy is working but at the price of implacable and growing Roman Catholic hostility, not only to the Protestants but to the Army. This hostility is tending to spread upwards through the middle class, encouraged particularly by some Roman Catholic priests and behind it all stands NICRA, the active ally of the IRA.



e. The ban on marches is the major current problem. Mr Faulkner deserves credit for his handling of the ban. He did not consult the Orange Order but went ahead and persuaded his Cabinet to do what he thought right. The problem is the difficulty of enforcing the law. The Security Forces regard a march as prevented (by stopping it on ground and at a time of their own choice) if its aim is frustrated. The trouble as usual is the local news media, particularly BBC TV, who did not fairly report the march and the Security Force measures of prevention on Sun 23 Jan 72. Too much was made of

the attempts to defy the law. If this problem escalates, as it well may, some blame will attach to the BBC. (The COS subsequently gave it as his opinion, and D Int agreed, that the Protestants have got used to the Roman Catholic bomber/gunman (whom they don’t see) and are more likely to react increasingly aggressively to the sight of NICRA supporters defying the law).

f. As for the future, there is a continuing need to:

(1) Sustain the attrition operation.

(2) Seek reconciliation with the Catholic community at every opportunity.

(3) Seek to defeat IRA hostile propaganda and preserve the good name of the Army, which is being assailed with evil intent.”


1 G70.437-439

9.238 In the same minutes of this meeting, General Ford is recorded as describing the major problem in the area of 8th Infantry Brigade in the following terms:

“Hooliganism in Londonderry is the running sore, but is being contained. 15 IRA gunmen have been seen to fall in Londonderry since 1 Jan 72. The interesting thing is that there is always an instant reaction to our patrolling but none to the casualties we inflict by our own sniper fire. The Creggan and the Bogside are regretfully IRA strongholds. To go into the Creggan to pick up, say 3 wanted men in a bad area, is virtually a four or five company operation. In the Bogside it is possible to patrol on a one company basis. So we can go in to either area if we so wish, but only in this sort of strength. The reason is that the Roman Catholic population will respond to a man, and has not only an efficient alarm system but permanent road blocks and vigilantes. (This situation will undoubtedly be exploited in the march planned for 30 Jan 72, when up to 12,000 Roman Catholics are expected to march, come what may, from assembly points in the Creggan and Bogside to the Guildhall Square. They can only be effectively halted on the line of William Street, but by the time they arrive there they will have been seen on (invited) TV to have marched. This matter will be the major item on the JSC agenda for Thur 27 Jan 72).”


1 G70.438-439

9.239 The figure of 15 paramilitary gunmen being seen to fall in Londonderry since the beginning of the year cannot be verified. The Roll of Honour, which lists deceased members of the Provisional Republican movement including Provisional IRA members who died while on active service, and the associated book of obituaries, Tírghrá, do not record any Provisional IRA fatalities that could have occurred in the city during this period. It is possible that all or some of the 15 gunmen who were seen to fall were injured; or that they were members of the Officials, not the Provisionals; or that deaths did occur that were not publicly commemorated, although the last seems most unlikely. However, it is also possible that some or all of the reports made by members of the security forces were mistaken or exaggerated. Captain INQ 2225, a military Intelligence Officer, told this Inquiry that: “Troops tended to assume that when they fired their weapons, and saw targets move that they had hit them. When no evidence emerged of a body, they assume that they had hit the person and that the body had been spirited across the border.”1

1 C2225.7

Security forces’ preparations for the march in Londonderry

The meeting between Brigadier MacLellan and Chief Superintendent Lagan on 24th January 1972

9.240 On Monday 24th January 1972 Brigadier MacLellan met Chief Superintendent Lagan and Chief Superintendent Lagan’s deputy, Superintendent McCullagh, in order to discuss the proposed march. The Brigadier knew Chief Superintendent Lagan well and, at that time, met him almost every day.1 The three debated the best way in which to deal with the march.2
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1 B1279.031 2 B1279.032

9.241 Chief Superintendent Lagan believed that the march should be permitted to proceed to the Guildhall, both in order to prevent confrontation at the time of the march and in order to discourage further, later protests. He told the Widgery Inquiry:1

“A. We discussed the whole range of eventualities that might arise: first of all, should the march be stopped at its origin or should it be stopped en route: should it be stopped at a place of our choice or should it be allowed to proceed: under those four heads. We quickly eliminated that the first two were situations which we could not operate. It became then a question of did we allow them through or did we stop them. My view was that if we stopped them there would be confrontations on the day and subsequently.

Lord Widgery: Tell me what you mean by that. I can understand confrontations on the day.

A. Referring back to experiences of marches in Derry on earlier occasions when a ban is imposed you find that factory workers, groups of people, on the drop of a hat, as it were, decided to have a march through part of the city and the forces then available could not control them. For this situation to arise after the 30th to me was bringing the law into disrepute.

Q. If I understand you aright, you feared that if the 30th January march was stopped not only would there be a serious confrontation that day but it would cause people to have these informal marches here and there in the succeeding days?

A. Absolutely.

Mr. Stocker: The march was intending to go to the Guildhall, was it not?

A. The intention of the organisers was to go to the Guildhall to hold their meeting there.

Q. Was it your view that they should be permitted to get to the Guildhall?

A. That is correct.”


1 WT17.18

9.242 Later in Chief Superintendent Lagan’s oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry the following exchange took place:1

“Q. You had given, therefore, these reasons for your advice. One, that there might be a sort of passive objection by the marchers to being stopped; that there might be subsequent smaller marches in other parts of Londonderry. Are those the only reasons that you had for avoiding any confrontation?

A. I think that when you make reference to smaller marches elsewhere in the city, these are really the marches which would cause the Security Forces the biggest headache, leaving factories and so on and marching through areas where there would be confrontations between two religious factions, and this, as I said earlier, would be much more serious than the confrontation at the Bogside.”


1 WT17.33

9.243 Chief Superintendent Lagan advised that the marchers should be allowed to enter the Guildhall Square (Shipquay Place) where the police and Army would be able to identify many marchers by sight and take photographs for use in subsequent prosecutions. In his written evidence to this Inquiry he said that in his view, such a course would have minimised the risk of confrontation between the security forces and marchers. He thought that, had the march reached the Guildhall, the majority of the marchers would have dispersed after the speeches had been made, leaving the hooligan element who would undoubtedly have thrown stones but whom he would not have expected to cause massive damage.1

1 JL1.9-10

9.244 Chief Superintendent Lagan’s evidence to the Widgery Inquiry was that Brigadier MacLellan agreed that the march should be permitted to proceed. In his statement for the Widgery Inquiry dated 10th March 1972, Chief Superintendent Lagan wrote:1

“I had had several discussions of an informal character with Brigadier MacLellan. He and I are jointly responsible for security in the city of Londonderry. In particular I discussed the action to be taken in relation to the proposed march with him on 24 January, when I expressed the view that the best course was to let the procession to go on unhindered and to limit the activity of the security forces to identifying participants. I understood him to be fully in agreement with this view.”


1 JL1.2

9.245 He said the same on 14th March 1972 in his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry:1

“Q. We have heard from Brigadier MacLellan, and I think General Ford, that they were afraid that the rioting which over weeks and months had taken place in the area of William Street might be extended to areas further north.

A. I have not discussed the operation at all with General Ford. Certainly on the afternoon of the 24th when I was discussing with Brigadier MacLellan we discussed all the possibilities that might arise from it, but at the end of the day my view was as I have already said and the Brigadier was in agreement with me on this. I indicated that I was sending a paper through to my Chief Constable giving my views and my recommendation and he indicated he would do likewise to his authorities.”


1 WT17.18

9.246 Later in his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry, he said:1

“A. The discussion which I had with the Brigadier was a long one. We both did the Devil’s Advocate about what should take place. At the end of the meeting the con[s]ensus of opinion was that in the interests of the city the parade should be

allowed to go through to its meeting in the Guild Hall where, I admit, this was in breach of the spirit of the ban, but the law could still be enforced, as it had been previously, by prosecuting in Londonderry the people who had breached the ban.”


1 WT17.34

9.247 Chief Superintendent Lagan was questioned at the Widgery Inquiry on this point by Mr McSparran, counsel for the families:1

“Q. Chief Superintendent, after a discussion you had on the 24th January with Brigadier MacLellan you have told the Tribunal that the Brigadier shared your view. Was that clear to you?

A. Absolutely, yes.

Q. That means he took the same view as you did, that there should not be a confrontation?

A. That is correct, yes – no, that the march should be allowed to go through [to the Guildhall].



Q. Did it appear to you that his agreement was based broadly on the same reasons as the ones you had advanced?

A. Yes, my Lord.



Q. On the 24th did you get the impression that the Brigadier’s advice was going to be on the same lines as yours?

A. I did ask the Brigadier in the course of the afternoon had he any instructions from his authorities on what attitude should be adopted, and he told me he had received no instructions.

Q. So far as his own attitude after the meeting is concerned, did you get the impression that if his advice was asked it would be on the same lines as your own?

A. Yes, and he was giving this advice in fact to General Ford.

Q. And did he tell you that?

A. He did indeed.”


1 WT17.22-23

9.248 Sadly, Chief Superintendent Lagan was too unwell to give oral evidence to this Inquiry. In his written statement to this Inquiry, he told us:1

“48. … After Brigadier MacLellan and I had discussed the options and it was time to make a decision I said, that I thought the march ought to be allowed to proceed. Although I do not remember Brigadier MacLellan expressly saying that he thought that this was a good idea he did not object or suggest another course of action. There certainly was not any argument about it.

49. It was clear that the march was going to be a rather important event and that a united decision by the RUC and the army was required. Following procedure, I informed my Chief Constable of this decision.”


1 JL1.10

9.249 Chief Superintendent Lagan went on to state that he had known that Brigadier MacLellan was going to report to General Ford and that he had understood that the Brigadier was going to inform General Ford that the “joint advice” of Chief Superintendent Lagan and Brigadier MacLellan was that the march should be allowed to proceed.1

1 JL1.10

9.250 Superintendent McCullagh, in his oral evidence to this Inquiry, said that he and Chief Superintendent Lagan had both been of the view that the march should be stopped at Army barriers but should then be allowed to proceed to the Guildhall, if it were clear that the marchers were going to overwhelm the barriers by pressing forward and as long as the marchers were peaceful. If hooligans were to the fore, then both hooligans and marchers should be stopped. However, Superintendent McCullagh said that if the marchers had been allowed to proceed to the Guildhall, there would have been no hooligan confrontation at that time. He accepted that there might have been hooligan trouble at a later stage.1

1 Day 231/117-121, 129; Day 232/130

9.251 Superintendent McCullagh went on to say:1

“I am satisfied that when we went to see the Brigadier, Mr Lagan and I were firmly of the opinion that – he has stated and I have stated – the march should proceed, given the conditions we have both outlined … having discussed all the options, we put that very closely to the Brigadier. He definitely did not say no, but I was clearly under the impression that he had to receive superior instructions on the matter and it may not, at that time, have been within his remit to give a whole-hearted agreement to it, but I do not remember that he showed any hostility to the suggestion.”


1 Day 231/132

9.252 Unfortunately, no copy of Chief Superintendent Lagan’s written report to the Chief Constable has survived. However, we have a copy of the signal that Brigadier MacLellan sent to General Ford after the meeting. Brigadier MacLellan wrote:1

“ONE. At meeting with Chief Sup N Div and his deputy today Lagan made following points:

A. He estimates 8000 to 12000 will take part using several assy [assembly] areas and routes.

B. He believes massive confrontation with SF [security forces] will shatter such peace as is left in city: create intense violence and remove last vestiges of moderate goodwill etc.

C. He forecasts increased violence and smaller marches eg factory workers WAC etc will continue for days until ban is clearly seen to be impossible to impose effectively (as SF cannot seal Bogside permanently without bringing the city to a halt).

D. He urges identifications and photographs followed by normal court proceedures rather than direct confrontation and is representing this line to his RUC superiors.

TWO. I agree that consequences of stopping march will be very serious and reckon that my present permanent force levels almost certainly inadequate if we are to face situation Lagan envisages.”


1 G70A.441.001-002

9.253 Brigadier MacLellan’s recollection of the meeting differed from that of Chief Superintendent Lagan and Superintendent McCullagh. In his draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Brigadier MacLellan referred to Chief Superintendent Lagan’s views but did not say whether or not he had agreed with them. He said that he had reported the views of Chief Superintendent Lagan and Superintendent McCullagh to General Ford:1

“… with my own comment that the consequences of stopping the march would be very serious, and that my existing force levels were inadequate to cope with the situation that Chief Superintendent Lagan envisaged.”


1 B1231

9.254 Brigadier MacLellan gave oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry before Chief Superintendent Lagan did, and Chief Superintendent Lagan’s account of the meeting was not put to him. Brigadier MacLellan gave the following evidence to the Widgery Inquiry:1

“A. We envisaged a very large march, indeed, and how we should control it. The Chief Superintendent considered that if we stopped it intense violence would ensue and recommended that the wisest course might be to identify the marchers and bring Prosecutions later rather than having a confrontation.

Q. To jump ahead a little, is that why, in your Order, there is a reference to photographing the leaders if they cannot be arrested?

A. Yes, this is so.

Q. Did you have any expectation or apprehension of the IRA gunmen and bombers being there?

A. I personally thought that it was likely that they would join the event. I hoped they would not participate.

Q. Did you consider when the crowd was, as it were, present in front of them in large numbers they would be likely to fire?

A. I did not think that they would use the NICRA marchers as cover. I thought that they would shelder [sic] behind the hooligans.

Q. But not the mass?

A. No, not the mass.

Q. Having regard to all the considerations, did you consider whether you had existing (a) enough troops to deal with this problem?

A. I considered that if the event turned the way that the Chief Superintendent forecast there would be intense violence and that I would need reinforcements.

Q. For what purpose? It has been put that the purpose of the operation was a confrontation with the IRA to draw them out and shoot it out with them?

A. That is quite untrue. The purpose was to contain the march, to stop the march and contain it within the Bogside and the Creggan and also any hooliganism and rioting which took place should also be contained and not overflow into the commercial and Protestant areas of the City.

Q. Having reported the views you had formed to Major General Ford did he order you to stop the march?

A. Yes, he did.”
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1 WT11.6

9.255 There is a dispute on the question of whether Brigadier MacLellan agreed with Chief Superintendent Lagan’s views. This dispute first arose in March 1972, immediately after Chief Superintendent Lagan had given his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry. In a letter to General Ford dated 15th March 1972 (the day after that on which Chief Superintendent Lagan had given evidence), Brigadier MacLellan wrote:1

“In his evidence Lagan stated that I shared his view that the march should be allowed to proceed to the Guildhall and that those breaking the ban should be photographed and prosecuted afterwards. This is untrue. It was well known to both of us that:

a. Subsequent arrests of people living in the Bogside and Creggan would be virtually impossible.

b. The main aim of the march was to demonstrate that it was impossible for Stormont to impose the ban in Londonderry, and that after the march in Belfast on 2 January, when the ban was seen to be broken, the Government were bound to decide that the march should be stopped, and that the Joint Security Committee would share this view.

c. Mr. Hull (LAW) had let it be known that if the NICRA march was not stopped on 30 January he would organise a vast march in Belfast on the following Saturday.

Our discussion therefore centred around the probable consequences of stopping the march, in order that we could anticipate the steps that we should have to take. The question of whether the march should or should not be stopped was academic. As you well know Lagan’s sympathies (and those of his deputy, McCullough [sic], who was also present at our meeting) lie entirely with the Catholic Community. His proposal that the march should be allowed to proceed was patently a gesture, or ‘umbrella’, to maintain his position with his own people. When he said that he was going to advise the Chief Constable on these lines I told him that I would inform you of his views. You will recall that I did so by signal immediately after the meeting. I concluded this signal with my own comment ‘I agree the consequences of stopping march will be very serious and reckon that my present permanent force levels almost certainly inadequate if we are to face situation Lagan envisages’. I did not propose then, or subsequently, that the march should be allowed to proceed, and I regard Lagan’s evidence on this point as thoroughly misleading.”


1 B1279.001

9.256 In his written statement to this Inquiry, Brigadier MacLellan told us that he could no longer recall the details of the meeting. However, he also stated:1

“Personally, I was concerned that if the march had been allowed to go to the Guildhall, the hooligans would have had a heyday, busting the place up and looting. This would have been followed by a sectarian flare up and I was therefore in no doubt that the march had to be contained. I think that any suggestion that you could allow the marchers to go through to the Guildhall to make their protest, to photograph them and then arrest and prosecute them later, was pie in the sky. You needed a large Army presence to arrest one person in the Creggan. Even if you managed that, there would be a problem with witnesses and the whole idea was impracticable. I did not agree with [Chief Superintendent] Lagan that the march should be allowed to proceed to the Guildhall.”


1 B1279.032

9.257 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Brigadier MacLellan said that he was sure that he had told Chief Superintendent Lagan of his disagreement at the time of the meeting.1 He was asked whether, for reasons of politeness or otherwise, he might not have told Chief Superintendent Lagan that he disagreed and might have given Chief Superintendent Lagan the impression that he shared the Chief Superintendent’s views. He replied:2

“No, I do not think so … I cannot really remember the details of that meeting, but we had assumed, I mean, it had been made quite clear that the march was banned by the Government and would go ahead and we would be ordered to stop it and I think, trying to recall back, that was almost my starting position.

The discussion was how we would deal with the thing when it happened.”


1 Day 261/38-39 2 Day 261/41

9.258 The Brigade Major, Colonel Steele, did not recall being present at this meeting. In his oral evidence to this Inquiry he said that at the time he shared Chief Superintendent Lagan’s view.1 However, he went on to say:2

“So I have to say that I would agree with Superintendent Frank Lagan here, that the best way to avoid confrontation was to allow the march to proceed, which in fact we did.”


1 Day 266/38 2 Day 266/44

9.259 Colonel Steele’s evidence was confused, since on the day the security forces did not allow the march to proceed. Later in his evidence, the following exchange took place:1

“Q. [Lord Saville] … your recollection is that you rather agreed with Superintendent Lagan earlier in the week preceding 30th January that the march should be allowed to proceed; if I understood you correctly, should be allowed to proceed to the Guildhall?

A. Yes, and I think that in the operation order I, I cannot immediately recall it … that I actually put into the operation order that they may well proceed to the Guildhall, and that there would have to be action taken about it.”


1 Day 266/49

9.260 Colonel Steele’s recollection is clearly wrong in this respect, since the Operation Order (to which we refer below) made it clear that while the marchers were to be allowed to march within the Creggan and the Bogside, they were to be prevented from reaching the Guildhall.

9.261 It is our view that Brigadier MacLellan could not have told Chief Superintendent Lagan that he agreed that the march should be allowed to proceed or that he would put forward such a proposal to General Ford as his and the Chief Superintendent’s joint advice. The Brigadier knew that the political imperative and, in particular, the recently issued Policy Instruction on the handling of marches, required the march to be stopped. Nevertheless, it seemed to us that Brigadier MacLellan may have had some sympathy for Chief Superintendent Lagan’s proposal. Our view is reinforced by the fact that in his signal to General Ford,1 Brigadier MacLellan put forward what Chief Superintendent Lagan considered the best course to be and shared his view of the outcome of a confrontation with the security forces. It is possible that he privately thought that it would be better to allow the march to go ahead. At the same time, however, he was well aware that there was really no question of allowing the march to proceed all the way. We accept that Brigadier MacLellan thought that: “The question of whether the march should or should not be stopped was academic.”2 We reject the suggestion, made on behalf of some of the families,3 that Brigadier MacLellan lied to the Tribunal when describing his discussions with Chief Superintendent Lagan. It seems to us that Chief Superintendent Lagan must have misunderstood the Brigadier’s intentions and wrongly concluded, perhaps from the Brigadier’s sympathy for his views, and perhaps from the Brigadier’s failure expressly to disagree, that he would not only put forward to General Ford the Chief Superintendent’s opinion that the march should not be stopped, but would state that he supported this course of action.

1 G70A.441.001 3 FS1.706

2 G128.849

Our assessment of the wisdom of Chief Superintendent Lagan’s view

9.262 For the reasons that we have given above, we find that there was no prospect of Chief Superintendent Lagan’s tactics being adopted. We believe, though, that we should express our views on whether his plan should have been preferred.

9.263 The plan had several major flaws:

1. The arrest of a significant number of identified rioters, days or weeks after any riot, was largely impracticable. Most rioters lived in the no-go areas of the Creggan and Bogside, where the police could enter only with substantial support from the Army.

2. Had the march been permitted to proceed, the Protestant community would have been outraged. Sectarian conflict would have been rendered much more likely. Further, unionists would have been encouraged to hold marches of their own; if substantial numbers in both communities had begun to march, the security forces would almost certainly have been unable to enforce the ban on marches, the chances of sectarian conflict would have sharply increased, and the rule of law would have been visibly weakened.

3. Had the march been permitted to reach the Guildhall, then violence at Army barriers might well have been avoided. However, rioting and hooliganism in the city centre would still have been a very real threat. The risk of destruction to property around the Guildhall would have remained.

9.264 For these reasons we take the view that the rejection of Chief Superintendent Lagan’s plan was not unreasonable.

The Army Warning Orders

9.265 General Ford acted on the observation in Brigadier MacLellan’s signal that 8th Infantry Brigade did not have sufficient troops to deal with the situation that Chief Superintendent Lagan envisaged. On 24th January 1972, after receiving the signal, General Ford informed the Province Reserve, 1 KOB, that it might be required in Londonderry on 30th January. General Ford also telephoned Brigadier Kitson, the Commander of 39th Infantry Brigade, and told him that 1 PARA, the 39th Infantry Brigade Reserve, would be required on that day and might be away for up to four days. Brigadier Kitson agreed that he could – just – spare 1 PARA for this length of time.1

1 B1208.035

9.266 On the same day Colonel Wilford received from 39th Infantry Brigade a Warning Order, informing him that 1 PARA would be needed for an operation on 30th January:1

1 WT11.37A; B944

9.267 A number of civilian witnesses told this Inquiry that paratroopers at Magilligan Strand called out to the demonstrators, “See you next week”, or words to that effect. See, for example, the evidence of Roisin Stewart,1 Shaun Doherty,2 Michael Joseph McKinney3 and Joseph McKinney.4

1 AS34.6 3 AM309.1

2 AD177.5 4 AM304.1

9.268 In view of the fact that the Warning Order to 1 PARA was not given until two days later, it seems to us that it is unlikely that such comments were made, though we accept that these witnesses had genuinely come to believe that they had heard them at Magilligan Strand.

Information obtained by the security forces about the proposed march

9.269 Under the heading “Future Events”, Captain INQ 1803, the author of the 8th Infantry Brigade IntSum of 25th January 1972 (101), recorded:1

“A NICRA sponsored march followed by a meeting at the Guildhall, Londonderry is planned for 30 Jan. It is believed that all civil rights groups, whether IRA Goulding or Brady aligned, will combine together in an attempt to cause maximum embarrassment to the Security Forces. The main march is expected to form up in Bishops Field, Creggan at 1400 hours and move into the City via Eastway – Westland St – Lecky Rd – Rossville St – William St – Waterloo Place – Shipquay Place. The Shantallow Branch of NICRA is also expected to march from Drumlech Drive via Racecourse Rd – Buncrana Rd – Pennyburn Pass – Duncreggan Rd – Strand Rd and then to William St to join the main march. Estimates of numbers expected vary from 3,000 by the RUC (including up to 200 from Shantallow), to 10,000 by the London ‘Times’. It is possible that a further group may move eastwards from Brandywell up Foyle Rd in order to stretch the Security Forces. The organisers may well alter their plans to take account of Security Forces dispositions and possibly even march after rather than before the meeting...”


1 G72.451

9.270 There is no suggestion in this IntSum that the civil rights groups were planning to do more than cause “maximum embarrassment” to the security forces.
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9.271 The same IntSum also recorded:

“30. Democratic Unionist Association. The City of Londonderry and Foyle Association issued a statement deploring the proposed CRA march of 30 Jan and said that ‘if the government does not take the necessary steps to halt this parade, we are determined to take those steps ourselves’. They went on to say that ‘if the march is allowed to continue we are resolved to hold a similar march and rally at the earliest possible opportunity’.”


9.272 Under this entry, Captain INQ 1803 noted:

“Comment. The meeting [presumably of the Democratic Unionist Association] is reliably reported to have been poorly attended and the threat about stopping the parade is considered to be an empty gesture. It is possible, however, that subsequently this organisation might arrange some form of march.”


9.273 Under the heading “Outlook” he noted:1

“31. Spasmodic terrorist attacks are expected to continue against all types of targets probably at much the same level as recently.

32. There is an increased threat of cross-border action by IRA (Brady) ASUs and specific targets for such attacks, in addition to military patrols, will be RUC and particularly SB [Special Branch] members on and off-duty. Attacks on UDR members probably with a view to stealing weapons are also likely.

33. On the streets planned protest demonstrations, which have the aim of provoking confrontations with the Security Forces and creating publicity and fuel for propaganda, will cause further trouble. This particularly applies to the march to the Guildhall, Londonderry on 30 Jan.”


1 G72.452

9.274 It appears from other sources that the Loyalist Association of Workers, which had emerged under the leadership of Billy Hull from the Workers’ Committee for the Defence of the Constitution, had also let it be known that if the march on 30th January were not stopped, it would organise a vast march in Belfast on the following Saturday.1

1 B1279.1; B1279.3.3

Information obtained from Observer B

9.275 The Inquiry received evidence, in the form of a written statement, from a man to whom it gave the cipher “Observer B”.1 He died during the course of the Inquiry and, before his death, was too unwell to give oral evidence. Observer B was an Englishman who lived in Northern Ireland in 1972 and who provided information both to the Army and to the British Security Service. He did not live in Londonderry but was a visitor to the city.

1 KO2.1

9.276 Observer B told the Inquiry that he was in Londonderry, and in the area of the Rossville Flats, on Tuesday 25th January 1972. He stated that while he was there he saw a group of about 40 men, whom he took to be IRA auxiliaries, drilling in Glenfada Park. He watched as they marched across Rossville Street and entered the Rossville Flats. Observer B told the Inquiry that a few minutes later he spoke to a man, X (whose identity is known to the Inquiry but whose name we have not made public), who said that the men were “practising for Sunday” and had been there on the previous day at the same time. Observer B went on to say that he then noticed that the men were spread out along the three landings of Block 2 of the Rossville Flats and appeared to be practising a manoeuvre in which they moved on command to the outside edge of the balconies, keeping to the left of the columns that were placed at intervals along the balconies. Observer B thought that the men would be invisible to anyone looking at the Flats from the Observation Posts on the City Walls. Observer B’s evidence was that he telephoned his Army handler, a man to whom we gave the Inquiry cipher “IO1”, reported what he had seen and expressed the view that “I think you have got a problem on Sunday”. IO1’s reaction, according to Observer B, was to say “we are going to have to think on this one – ring me again in the morning”. Observer B did so and repeated the information that he had provided on the previous day.

9.277 Observer B also said that he saw men drilling again on Thursday 27th January 1972 and was told by X that the men had done that “‘every day this week’”.1 He said that he again reported this to IO1.

1 KO2.2-KO2.6

9.278 IO1 is dead and so his version of events could not be obtained. No record has been found of any relevant reports made by Observer B to IO1 in the week preceding Bloody Sunday. There is a record of a meeting that took place between the two on 27th January 1972. This shows that Observer B was paid £10 in expenses on that day but contains no record of any discussions held between the two of them.1 Despite the absence of a record, it is possible that Observer B’s recollections are accurate and that he did pass to IO1 the information to which he referred in his evidence to us, though there is nothing to suggest that the information played any part in the planning by the Army for the march.

1 KM10.5

Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association’s statements to the press on 25th January 1972

9.279 On 25th January 1972 in Belfast NICRA issued a press release, entitled “Reasons for Derry March”, in which it stressed that its return to the streets was made inevitable “by the continuing and escalating repression of the British Army” and by the rejection of its demands for reform made the previous December, which it described as its “peace plan”.1 At a press conference held on the same day NICRA stated that there had:2

“... so far been six anti-Internment marches held throughout the North involving thousands defying the parades ban. Last weekend alone four marches were held successfully despite the might of the British army and RUC. The brutality of soldiers at Magilligan and Castlewellan over the weekend showed clearly how completely this erstwhile peace-keeping force has been converted into the military arm of the Unionist Administration.”


1 G71A.444.1 2 G71B.444.2

The Guardian newspaper article

9.280 On the same day an article appeared in the Guardian under the headline, “Army call to bar paratroops”.1 We have referred briefly to this article above. The author, Simon Hoggart, reported that at least two Army units in Belfast had made informal requests to Brigade Headquarters (39th Infantry Brigade) for the Parachute Regiment to be kept out of their areas because they regarded the paratroopers’ tactics as too rough and sometimes brutal. One officer was quoted as having said that the paratroopers had undone in ten minutes the community relations that the officer’s unit had taken four weeks to build up. Another officer, a Captain, was quoted as saying:

“[The Parachute Regiment] are frankly disliked by many officers here, who regard some of their men as little better than thugs in uniform.”


1 L7-L9

9.281 Various allegations of the use by members of the Parachute Regiment of unnecessary force against civilians were made in the article.

9.282 The Guardian article was discussed within the MoD in London. The CGS spoke to General Tuzo, telling him that there was a growing feeling within the MoD that soldiers in Northern Ireland were speaking too much to the press. Consideration was given within the MoD to the idea of an approach either to the editor of the Guardian or to Simon Hoggart (or Simon Winchester, who was believed by the MoD to have been involved in the production of the article); but it appears that no action was in fact taken.1In Northern Ireland, HQNI issued a warning to Army units, telling them to refer any Guardian journalists to the Army Public Relations branch.2

1 G75C.462.3-4 2 G75C.462.3

9.283 While it was impracticable to investigate the validity of the allegations concerning the behaviour of the Parachute Regiment in Belfast, we have no reason to doubt that Simon Hoggart was told what he reported.

9.284 On 25th January 1972 General Tuzo sent Brian Faulkner a report on the four marches that had taken place over the weekend.1He expressed the view that there was no cause to apologise for anything that had happened over the weekend.2He stressed that the security forces must be given the latitude to stop marches at the best tactical position, as “the alternative is to accept a shambles and possibly a blood-bath”.3Brian Faulkner responded (writing on 28th January) by saying that he considered that the operations “at Lurgan, Armagh, Newcastle and Magilligan” had gone “exceptionally well”.4He added:

“This weekend will undoubtedly be a further test of our resolve and the march in Londonderry will certainly be a most difficult one to handle. I know that detailed plans have been made and I hope everything goes well.”

1 G74AA.458.6.1-5

2 G74AA.458.6.1
3 G74AA.458.6.1

4 G84A.528.1


The meeting with Jack Lynch on 25th January 1972

9.285 In London on 25th January 1972 the Cabinet Secretary Sir Burke Trend and Sir Stewart Crawford (Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office) called on the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, who was at the Irish Embassy on his way back from Brussels. Jack Lynch referred to the political initiative that he had suggested to Edward Heath on the previous Sunday and said that he might launch the initiative at his party conference in mid-February, if not sooner.1 In a note on the meeting, Sir Burke Trend expressed his belief that Jack Lynch’s proposals arose in part from concerns about his domestic political position.2 According to the note, he and Sir Stewart Crawford had raised a number of issues that would arise from any such initiative,3 and as a result of the discussion Sir Burke Trend thought that Jack Lynch had accepted that “if he merely launched into the blue an initiative as ill-prepared as this, he might do more harm than good”.4 Although Jack Lynch was not prepared to modify his timetable, he did respond favourably to the suggestions that he should give greater thought to the detailed questions that his proposals would prompt, and that he should anticipate an unfavourable response from Brian Faulkner by bringing him into private discussions before an initiative was launched.5

1 G74G.458.18

2 G74G.458.19

3 G74G.458.18-20
4 G74G.458.20

5 G74G.458.20


Major General Ford’s telephone conversation with Brigadier MacLellan on 25th January 1972

9.286 On the evening of 25th January 1972 General Ford spoke by telephone to Brigadier MacLellan. He told the Brigadier that, while the decision whether or not to stop the march was one for the JSC, the Brigadier should assume for planning purposes that he would be ordered to stop the march.1 General Ford ordered the Brigadier to submit to him by 0830 hours on Wednesday 26th January an outline plan for dealing with the march, together with a marked map. It appears that General Ford wanted the plan by that time so that he would have it before the Director of Operations Intelligence Committee (Northern Ireland) meeting at 1000 hours on Wednesday 26th January.2

1 B1279.015; B1142 2 B1208.036

9.287 Brigadier MacLellan made a note of the telephone conversation.1 According to the note, there was to be a cordon around the approaches to or from the Bogside and Creggan and the blockade was to be covered by Army snipers with “blocks of riot gunners to fire volleys”. The note recorded that the Army “must prevent damage to shopping & Protestant areas by saturating with troops”.

1 G69.435

9.288 Brigadier MacLellan’s note also contained the following:1

“Have told CLF I certainly need two additional battalions, possibly three. There will be 1 KOB and 1 PARA (plus possibly one from UK). CLF sees 1 PARA as reserve in City to ‘counter attack’ ie go round the back to arrest 300–400 rioters.”


1 G69.435

9.289 This note not only confirms that the decision to use 1 PARA as the arrest force was made by General Ford but also gives an indication of the scale of the operation that he envisaged. The proposed arrest of 300–400 rioters would have involved an operation of far greater magnitude than had ever previously been attempted in Londonderry. In an undated paper written after Bloody Sunday and entitled “The Londonderry Hooligan Element”1 Lieutenant Colonel Roy Jackson, the Commanding Officer of 1 R ANGLIAN, listed four successful “scoop” operations that had occurred between October 1970 and July 1971. The largest number of arrests had been made on 6th February 1971, when two companies deployed, converging on Rossville Street and arresting 23 people. In his draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Brigadier MacLellan noted that the last extensive scoop-up of rioters before Bloody Sunday had taken place in February 1971 – and that 27 rioters had been arrested on that occasion.2 It seems likely that Brigadier MacLellan and Colonel Jackson were referring to the same operation, although the figures for the number of arrests differ slightly.

1 G138.920-922 2 B1279.018

9.290 Colonel Steele told this Inquiry that both he and Brigadier MacLellan had regarded the figures of 300–400 arrests as “optimistic”. Both he and the Brigadier, in evidence to us, described the figures as “unrealistic”.1 Colonel Steele said that he might have expected 100–150 hooligans to be present on 30th January 1972.2 His evidence was that he and Brigadier MacLellan had agreed that, when drafting the Brigade Operation Order for the day, they would not put in a specific figure for the number of anticipated arrests, because they had doubted whether there would be 300–400 hooligans present and rioting on the day and because the geography of Londonderry, which required the troops to operate within a confined space, would not permit that number to be arrested anyway.3 Brigadier MacLellan told us that he had believed that nothing like 300–400 would be arrested because the rioters would attempt to run away as soon as they saw the soldiers coming.4

1 Day 266/44; B1279.032

2 Day 266/43-44
3 B1315.003

4 B1279.033


9.291 Colonel Steele told us that he had not informed General Ford that the target of 300–400 arrests was unrealistic, since it was not his position to do so.1 However, it appears that during the course of the week General Ford came to realise that the figure was unachievable. General Ford’s recollection was that the figure had gradually decreased as planning progressed and that in the end the number of arrests for which he had hoped was 80. He said he did not think that administrative arrangements to cope with 300–400 were put in place.2

1 Day 268/1 2 Day 254/44

9.292 General Ford’s evidence to the Widgery Inquiry was that he had expected the troops to face a considerable problem from hooligans on 30th January 1972. The following exchange took place during his oral evidence to that Inquiry:1

“A. It was the view of the senior Commanders on the spot, and I supported this view, that it was inevitable that at an early stage the IRA and the hooligans would take over control of this illegal march, no matter what the NICRA organisers wished.



Q. And was it any part of that forecast that the violence would cease when the march was stopped or that it would be prolonged?

A. I imagined that when the march was halted that there would be some form of violence then, certainly by the hooligans.

Q. Then assume that the troops were successful in turning back the main body of marchers as in fact they went down to Free Derry Corner, did you expect that the violence from the hooligans would then cease or go on longer during the day?

A. I thought it would go on longer. I was very concerned that the emotional speeches which I had every reason to expect from previous marches, and addresses of this sort, would incite a proportion of the crowd. And again, of course, I was informed that the size of this march might be anything from 20,000 to 25,000 people. So I had every reason to believe that these emotional speeches would persuade a proportion of the people supporting the march to join the hooligans and, after the speeches were over, that they would indeed pour down possibly on to the Waterloo Place and general commercial area around there, with the aim of carrying out further rioting.”


1 WT10.5

9.293 General Ford told the Widgery Inquiry that he had foreseen violence continuing for days after the march and so it had seemed to him that the Army should arrest as many hooligans as possible on the day, if the opportunity arose.1 He also explained the reasons why arrests on this scale could not have been carried out on other days:2

“Q. Why did you not arrest [the hooligans] on ordinary afternoons?

A. It was normally difficult to arrest them, firstly because the number of troops which I have in Londonderry at any given time is comparatively small, and they are fully engaged on their normal tasks of maintaining law and order; and secondly … when they turn out in the normal days the soldiers can be at risk if we try to pursue them

forward into the Bogside. They are very fleet of foot, and it is very difficult for a small number of troops on the ground to manage an arrest.

Q. If they go far in, as you have said, they are exposing themselves to rifle fire?

A. A small number of soldiers going in to try and arrest hooligans would be putting themselves at considerable risk.”
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1 WT10.8 2 WT10.8

9.294 General Ford gave further details of the reasons for his plan in his written evidence to this Inquiry. In his statement he told us:1

“The concept of encircling the DYH [Derry Young Hooligans] in a scoop-up operation was something that 8[th Infantry] Brigade had previously tried but never succeeded in doing. The main reason for this was that they could never get sufficiently to the rear of the hooligans to do the scoop-up. This however was still the obvious way to undertake the large number of arrests that I hoped for and was the way that 1 PARA had operated in Belfast when they had had the opportunity. The idea of doing a scoop-up was mine, but the detail as to how and where it would be done would be left to the Brigadier and the Co 1 PARA.”


1 B1208.038

9.295 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry he was referred to this passage and was asked:1

“Q. If this was something 8th Brigade had previously tried but never succeeded in doing, did either you or Brigadier MacLellan, so far as you are aware, ever have a clear idea as to how they would succeed on this occasion, not having done so on all previous occasions?”


1 Day 254/46

9.296 General Ford replied:1

“A. First of all, we had a larger number of troops to carry out the arrest operation; that is No. 1. Secondly, a detailed plan was going to be made to do it. Thirdly, it was anticipated that the DYH would be out in strength as against being out in their normal sort of numbers and, therefore, there would be more rioters to arrest.”


1 Day 254/46-47

Major General Ford’s role

9.297 It was General Ford who made the decision that plans should be made for an arrest operation on 30th January 1972 and it was he who decided that 1 PARA would act as the arrest force.1 In evidence to this Inquiry, General Ford said he did not believe that he had consulted Brigadier MacLellan about the use of 1 PARA. He was certain that he had not consulted any of the commanders of the local battalions. His evidence was that he had, though, “very definitely”2 discussed his proposed use of 1 PARA with General Tuzo. General Ford could not recall General Tuzo’s view but said that “he must have agreed, otherwise it could not happen”.3

1 Day 256/10

2 Day 254/18
3 Day 254/19


9.298 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry General Ford set out the reasons for his decision that there should be a large-scale arrest operation. He said that he had believed that “we” (in context, the security forces) could not allow the commercial centre to be destroyed by the “Derry Young Hooligans” and that they should make efforts to save the centre should the opportunity arise.1 He then gave the following evidence:

“A. The concept of an arrest operation was not just for that reason. There were several reasons. First of all, of course, for the first time were we going to have sufficient troops in Londonderry to even consider it seriously because … previous attempts on a much smaller scale by using existing troops had failed, for one reason or another.

The second thing was that on that particular Sunday I foresaw very serious violence following at some stage in the day … when we had information that after the march was over, after the speeches had – particularly the last speeches had taken place, that the hooligans, possibly reinforced by some supporters, would try to achieve their aim of breaking through to the Guildhall. Now, an arrest operation before that, should circumstances permit it and it be a situation in which we could launch an arrest operation successfully, had a great deal to recommend it.

Q. It would take the Derry Young Hooligans out of the equation if you could arrest a significant number of them and no doubt reduce the potential for further violence later which you say you were worried about?

A. Yes.

Q. And so the concept of a large arrest operation was a concept to – and I use the word in shorthand – to take out a large number of Derry Young Hooligans if it could be done?

A. Yes.”


1 Day 256/9-10

9.299 In his written statement to this Inquiry, General Ford set out his reasons for selecting 1 PARA as the arrest force:1

“(i) The units in 8[th Infantry] Brigade were already committed in areas which they knew around the perimeter of the City.

(ii) The City battalion (that is the one covering the William Street area etc) was 22 Light Air Defence Regiment Royal Artillery. This was not an infantry battalion but an artillery regiment temporarily being used in an infantry role and was not suited for a major arrest operation.

(iii) The Province Reserve (1 KOB) were my reserve. They only became operational on 13 January 1972 and had no experience of arrest operations, major or minor. A major arrest operation would certainly have been beyond their capabilities until at least the middle of February or so.

(iv) As the reserve battalion of 39 Brigade in Belfast, 1 PARA were not committed to permanently holding any particular area.

(v) The third Brigade in Northern Ireland had no reserve battalion.

(vi) 1 PARA had been in the province for well over a year. They had much experience, more than any other battalion in Northern Ireland, both in carrying out arrest operations and in coming under and countering terrorist fire.

(vii) They could be spared for three or four days by Commander 39 Brigade.”


1 B1208.031

9.300 General Ford then continued:1

“I have been asked whether it would have been feasible to use one of the resident battalions to carry out the arrest operation. Each of the battalions in 8 Brigade had an area of responsibility, and they each knew their area well. To be responsible for a particular area involved not only knowing the geography, but also knowing the history

of operations for that area, the intelligence of that area, the relationship with the RUC, and so on. Using, for example, the Royal Anglians or the Green Jackets for the arrest operation would have meant replacing them with 1 PARA and 1 PARA then having to take over responsibility for their area. In military terms, such a short term situation would have made no sense. I do accept however that whatever role 1 PARA or another reserve Battalion would have had on the day, they would have been at a slight disadvantage, but such disadvantage would have been far greater had they undertaken duties other than as an arrest battalion held in reserve.”


1 B1208.032

9.301 In his oral evidence, General Ford said that it was quite normal for a general officer not only to attach a unit such as 1 PARA to a brigade, but also to dictate what that unit should do on a particular occasion, especially if the unit had some specialised knowledge.1 He denied that he had selected 1 PARA because he expected it to take a tougher stance than the local battalions would take. He said that he had expected the soldiers of the Parachute Regiment to conduct themselves with “controlled aggression” and would have expected the same of the Royal Anglians or Royal Green Jackets, had either of those battalions conducted the arrest operation.2

1 Day 254/17 2 Day 256/11-12

9.302 In the course of General Ford’s oral evidence to this Inquiry, the following exchange took place:1

“Q. Is it easier for troops who are not local to the area to take over a static blocking position where you have, in essence, to stand firm rather than to adopt a dynamic role in an area you do not know?

A. I do not think it is, not in a position like Londonderry where the troops who are in an area have got to know a great deal about it. They have to know where the regular rioting takes place, where are the dangerous positions, and so on. And they get to know that very quickly when they are there for four months. So my view is that it is better to do it the other way, that is to say to bring in an outside unit. But of course there were other reasons for using 1 Para, which I specified in my statement.”


1 Day 254/17

9.303 General Ford also made the point that since a whole battalion was to be used for an arrest operation, to use one of the resident battalions would mean replacing it in the positions it occupied with 1 PARA, which would have meant a considerable addition to the time 1 PARA would be away from Belfast, at a time when Belfast was the key to the whole of the Army’s strategy.1

1 Day 258/70-71

9.304 The fact that 1 PARA did not know the ground over which any arrest operation would be likely to be conducted led in itself to some criticism of his choice of an outside force as opposed to local troops for this purpose. Our attention was drawn to the Standard Operating Procedures for riot control of the 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers, which provided that: “It is generally better to use reinforcing troops to man the base line and use those soldiers with local knowledge of the area to carry out flanking movements.”1

1 G24.187.20

9.305 When asked about this General Ford commented that this was a battalion document dealing with how to deploy troops at a lower level within the battalion, not guidance to a Brigade Commander.1 It is not clear to us why the advice for deploying troops within a battalion should differ at brigade level. However, as General Ford pointed out, 1 PARA would be operating in a very small area and would have time to carry out a reconnaissance.2

1 Day 254/17 2 Day 254/19-20; Day 258/73-74

9.306 Colonel Jackson, the Commanding Officer of 1 R ANGLIAN, also expressed the view that his battalion’s knowledge of the area equipped them better than 1 PARA for the role of an arrest force and enabled them to tell who were the rioters and who were merely onlookers:1

“We had been there for nearly two years: we knew virtually every rock there was, every corner there was; we knew the people, we knew the citizens of Londonderry. We knew the hooligans we could not get after. So ipso facto the whole sort of pyramid of pros were on our side. We knew who to arrest, and that was the hooligans and not the people on the periphery of the crowds.”


1 Day 285/21-22

9.307 Other officers took a different view. Major INQ 2079, the Officer Commanding A Company 2 RGJ, who was at one of the Army barriers on Bloody Sunday, while acknowledging that his battalion would know the geography of the city, stated that:1

“… knowing the geography or not is not a reason for not sending another battalion in. Going into virgin territory was something that we did often. I could see the argument that it was right for the resident battalions to stop the march rather than go in, and that 1 Para did not need to know the area for a scoop up operation. The Paras were fitter than us and on a scoop up operation were certainly as good as, if not better than, the resident battalions.”


1 C2079.3

9.308 While the knowledge of the area of local troops seems to us to be a factor to take into account when deciding who should be used as the arrest force, we are not persuaded that this factor alone justifies criticism of General Ford’s decision to use 1 PARA.

9.309 We are of the view that General Ford chose 1 PARA for a number of reasons, including but not limited to those that he gave. We do not accept that he chose this battalion simply because it was the 39th Infantry Brigade Reserve and so was available to him. He was unhappy with the attitude of the local commanders and felt that the time had come to step up the pressure against the local hooligans.1 He knew the reputation of 1 PARA as a tough battalion and he believed that 1 PARA, if sent in as an arrest force, might be able to arrest a large number of hooligans and so deal with the hooligan problem. He hoped that 1 PARA would be able, by adopting “controlled aggression”, to demonstrate to the local troops the advantages of taking a more proactive stance. His memorandum of 10th January 1972 (to which we have referred above) in our view evidences his attitude at the time.

1 Day 256/2-5

9.310 We believe that General Ford was keen for there to be an operation in which as many rioters as possible were arrested. He saw the march as providing an opportunity for such an arrest operation.

9.311 We consider that General Ford knew that 1 PARA had a reputation for using disproportionate force. He was aware of the allegations that members of 1 PARA had used unnecessary physical violence at Magilligan Strand. He knew or ought to have known that there was a risk that members of 1 PARA were more likely to use greater and excessive physical force on rioters, and also on innocent marchers who happened to be caught up in any arrest operation, than were soldiers of the resident battalions. He knew or ought to have known that such conduct could only worsen the already bad relationship between the local people and the security forces, a relationship that the local battalions were striving to improve.

9.312 General Ford’s choice of this battalion as the arrest force can fairly be criticised on these grounds. However, there is a significant difference between the use of disproportionate physical force in dealing with rioters and others, and the unjustified use of firearms by soldiers. We have found no evidence to suggest that General Ford believed, or had any reason to believe, that the use of 1 PARA might present a greater risk of death or serious injury to civilians by reason of unjustified gunfire than the use of any other battalion.

The differing approaches to dealing with the march

9.313 The Army plan to deal with the march that was to take place on 30th January 1972 differed in three significant respects from the plan drawn up by Colonel Steele for dealing with the march originally proposed for 16th January, for in the later plan:

(i) The Army and not the RUC were to take the major role in the security forces’ operation;

(ii) There was express provision for an arrest operation, albeit one that was only to be launched in specified circumstances; and

(iii) 1 PARA was given the role of an arrest force.

9.314 The march proposed for 16th January 1972 was predicted by 8th Infantry Brigade to be likely to attract 1,000–3,000 people.1 By the time that Brigadier MacLellan came to give his orders for dealing with the 30th January march, it was estimated that 3,000–12,000 people might attend.2 General Ford gave the increase in the predicted number of marchers as the reason for the change of Army plan:3

“It is a definite change of approach. But of course the size of this march, and the indications of the extent of the rioting that was likely to take place, dictated the fact that the Army would have to be in control from the start.”


1 G49.302 3 Day 254/48

2 G95.564

9.315 In his written statement to this Inquiry, General Ford told us that:1

“While I cannot remember the detail, it appears to be the case that the forecasts of the size of the later march and its potential repercussions for law and order in Londonderry were such that large numbers of troops would be required and military control would be necessary.”


1 B1208.038

9.316 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, General Ford was asked what he had had in mind when referring to these “potential repercussions”. He said that, by the time that he came to decide that the Army would be to the fore and that 1 PARA should act as an arrest force with potential to make 300–400 arrests, he had received from Chief Superintendent Lagan a report that there would be “extensive repercussions”. He said that he thought that he had also by this stage received intelligence reports that prophesied violence after the march.1

1 Day 254/48

9.317 General Ford was correct in his recollection that he had received Chief Superintendent Lagan’s warnings; they had been forwarded to him in Brigadier MacLellan’s signal of 24th January 1972. However, the Inquiry has not seen any evidence of an intelligence report warning of violence having been received by 25th January, when General Ford discussed his plans by telephone with Brigadier MacLellan.

9.318 General Ford was asked further questions on this topic:1

“Q. Was part of the thinking that on this occasion, that is to say 30th January, there would in all probability be a lot of hooligans, and also a large number of troops, so that this was an opportunity to arrest them that was not to be missed?

A. It was an opportunity to arrest them. And I also recall there was that message saying that it was very likely that, in the day, they would be determined to break right through to the Guildhall. And that was something which was very uppermost in my mind, because I foresaw not only violence against the barriers, but also, when the march was over, and all the speeches were over, and the last speakers like Bernadette Devlin had raised the temperature, I foresaw the DYH being reinforced by quite a number of the locals who sympathised with them anyway – a proportion who did – and all of them making for the troop positions.

Q. Why did you think that was going to happen, as opposed to the march tailing off, people going, listening to speeches that might or might not be very interesting, and then everything dying down?

A. Because we had an intelligence report, which is quoted in one of these documents, saying that they were determined to get to the Guildhall. Was it not to avenge Magilligan, or something like that? I am afraid, I am sorry, that I do not have the quotation.”


1 Day 254/49-50

9.319 General Ford was then shown a signal, sent by David to Brigadier MacLellan on 27th January 1972, in which David passed on information from a source, in fact Observer C, who had suggested that the marchers on 30th January would want to take revenge for events at Magilligan and that they would seek to reach the Guildhall.1 We deal in more detail below with this signal, which purported to record information received by Observer C on 26th January.

1 G81A.511.5

9.320 In his evidence, General Ford said that the signal of 27th January 1972 must have been the one of which he was thinking. Since this signal was received after he had made his initial decision that the Army should take the lead and that 1 PARA should act as an arrest force, General Ford must be mistaken in his recollection that he had seen the signal before making his decision. The information contained in the signal may well have confirmed a belief that he already held. The information available to us suggests that Brigadier MacLellan’s signal was the only document containing specific warnings about violence at or after the march that General Ford had to hand when he first instructed Brigadier MacLellan about his requirements for the Army’s handling of the march. He would, though, have had access to the HQNI IntSum of 13th January 1972, which suggested that the march would present “serious security problems”.1

1 G55.339

9.321 It was suggested to General Ford on behalf of some of the families that his own aide-de-camp thought that the parade was to be stopped:1

“… simply because your view was it was a challenge to the Security Forces, not because of any public order considerations; not because of any genuine policing considerations; that it was, quite simply, a challenge which had to be met.”


1 Day 259/7

9.322 General Ford did not accept this suggestion and stated that this was not his view. His evidence was that the march was to be stopped:1

“... on the grounds that it was an illegal march and orders had been issued saying that it was, like all the other marches.”
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1 Day 259/7

9.323 We accept General Ford’s evidence in this respect. He issued the order that the march was to be stopped. However, he gave that order because he had to do so; the decisions made by politicians gave him no real choice.

9.324 We also find that there was nothing wrong or sinister in the decision that the Army, and not the RUC, should take the leading role in dealing with the march. The increase in the numbers expected to march made such a decision a reasonable one. The RUC had limited resources and was placed in charge of policing the (smaller) march that was expected to start from Shantallow. Our view is strengthened by the fact that there is no evidence to indicate that Chief Superintendent Lagan thought that it was wrong to put the Army in control of the main march.

9.325 It was suggested to us on behalf of some of the families that General Ford conceived the Army plan for the 30th January march without seeking “to minimise the risk of the use of lethal force by the security forces, and [that he] created the circumstances in which lethal force was more likely to be used against unarmed civilians”.1

1 FS1.700

9.326 There can be no doubt that General Ford was unhappy with the security situation in Londonderry and with what he saw as the Army’s passive role there. His memorandum of 10th January 1972 confirms that he held these views. However, to our minds the submission assumes that what in fact happened on 30th January was something that should have been foreseen by General Ford, at least as a possibility, if the march was stopped or an attempt was made to arrest rioters.

9.327 We consider in due course and in detail what in fact happened on the day, but without using hindsight, we find difficulty in seeing how a plan to stop the march led to an increased risk of the use of lethal force, or how it failed to minimise the risk of use of such force against unarmed civilians. Marches had been stopped before without the use of lethal force by the security forces. It was reasonable for General Ford to take the view that the march, if allowed to continue, would be likely to lead to the wrecking of another Protestant part of the city, and especially the city commercial centre; and that such destruction would cause further harm to the way of life in Londonderry, would inflame Protestants and would show that law and order had broken down. It must also be borne in mind that the decision to stop the march was primarily one made by politicians, and not the responsibility of General Ford.

9.328 As to an arrest operation, the purpose was to disrupt the “Derry Young Hooligans” and thus reduce the incidence of their damaging activities. It is true that the implementation of an arrest operation might have increased the risk of republican paramilitaries targeting soldiers; and that if paramilitaries opened fire, there was inevitably a risk that soldiers might respond and that innocent civilians might be caught in the crossfire. However, such a risk could have been avoided only by not making any attempt at all to arrest rioters. Leaving aside the benefits of hindsight and the form the arrest operation eventually took, we are not persuaded that General Ford can be fairly criticised merely on the basis that he should not have ordered any arrest operation.

Meeting at the Ministry of Defence on 26th January 1972 and Anthony Stephens’ submission

9.329 On the morning of 26th January 1972, one of the regular morning meetings known as “the PUS’s (Permanent Under Secretary’s) morning meetings” took place at the MoD. The meeting on 26th January was attended by senior MoD officials, by a representative of the Home Office and by a representative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. At the meeting, those present noted:1

“The proposed Creggan march at the weekend posed difficult problems. It would be important to consider carefully both the PR aspects of not attempting to break-up the march in ‘no go’ areas, and also the possibility of adopting some summary procedure for dealing with those involved in the illegal march rather than the long drawn out procedure which had been used in connection with the Christmas and recent NICRA marches.”


1 G75DA.462.5.1

9.330 It was agreed outside the meeting that there should be a discussion that day between the MoD and the Home Office with a view to ensuring that the opinions expressed at the meeting should be made known to the GOC and the United Kingdom Representative before the JSC met on 27th January. The GOC and United Kingdom Representative were to be asked to ensure that the JSC gave full consideration to the points made at the Permanent Under Secretary’s meeting.1

1 G75DA.462.5.1-2

9.331 Later that day Anthony Stephens, the head of DS10, prepared a submission entitled “Proposed March in Londonderry” for Lord Carrington; the submission was also copied to others in the department.1 In that submission Anthony Stephens set out for the benefit of members of the Northern Ireland Policy Group the line that the GOC and United Kingdom Representative intended to take at the JSC meeting. The submission was intended to reach members of the Group before their own meeting, and that of GEN 47, both of which were to take place on the following day.

1 G74.457-458

9.332 In his submission, Anthony Stephens reported that the GOC considered that the first feasible point at which the Londonderry march could be halted was in William Street, just after it had left what were described in the notes as “the Catholic enclaves”.1 He pointed out that the organisers expected that the marchers would enjoy immunity so long as they remained in the Catholic estates and would ensure that television crews were present to record the apparent fact of the ban on marches being successfully defied.2 The submission also contained the following observations:3

“4. While we acknowledge privately that the Bogside and Creggan come close to being No-Go areas at present, we certainly do not want to advertise the fact. We are thus faced with the difficulty of justifying a policy of not attempting to halt the marchers within those estates, while avoiding giving credence to the idea of their being No-Go areas. The view of the GOC and UK Rep, which is shared in MoD and Home Office, is that the right line to take is to say that the purpose of the security forces is to prevent the march from achieving its intended object and to bring its organisers to book. The march will be halted and prevented from continuing: it is entirely a matter for the judgment of the security forces to decide at what point to halt it…

6. Leaving aside the special problem of Londonderry, the Protestant community can be expected to remain highly critical if there are not immediate indications that at least some of the marchers will be prosecuted – in contrast with the delay which has followed the recent marches. There might therefore be some advantage in trying to arrest some of the marchers on Sunday and bringing them before a court within 24 hours.

7. The GOC and UK Rep consider, and the Home Office and MoD are inclined to agree, that it would however be unwise to attempt to arrest any prominent political figures who happen to be in the van of the march, since this would be quite likely to precipitate really serious rioting. For such people, the only feasible course remains to take out summonses as soon as possible afterwards. It might be difficult then to arrest others among the marchers, while ignoring the leaders. However, there would be no objection to arresting anyone on the fringe of the march who was causing trouble; and it seems only too likely that, once the march is brought to a halt, there will then be at least some hooliganism. The GOC therefore has in mind to attempt to arrest a fair number of such hooligans and to arrange for a special court sitting on Monday morning, before which they can be brought.”


1 G74.457 3 G74.457-458

2 G74.457

9.333 Anthony Stephens prefaced his submission with the observation that: “It is primarily up to the Joint Security Committee in Northern Ireland to decide on the tactics which the security forces should adopt for dealing with this march … However, we agreed this morning that it would be helpful for members of the [MoD’s] Northern Ireland Policy Group to be aware … of the line which the GOC and UK Rep propose to take at the JSC meeting.” The role and function of the JSC, and the relationship of this body with the security forces and the wider administrations in Stormont and Westminster, are discussed elsewhere in this report.1

1 Paragraphs 8.16–18

9.334 On the same day, and in addition to the submission discussed above, Anthony Stephens produced a Current Situation Report that was circulated to ministers and officials in the MoD and other departments, including the Cabinet Office.1 In addition to listing incidents and developments that had occurred in Northern Ireland over the previous 24 hours (which included five shooting incidents in Londonderry and updates and reports on a number of fatalities and casualties elsewhere), the report discussed the planned march in Londonderry in the following terms:

“A further anti-internment march – which is likely to be the largest since they were commenced at Christmas – is planned for Londonderry next Sunday. The intention obviously is for the marchers to form up first within the Bogside and Creggan estates and to march for some distance within those areas, before emerging at a point where it will be feasible for the security forces to prevent them from continuing. It seems certain that television crews will be invited to record the early stages – and that Protestant reaction to the spectacle of a march apparently taking place unhindered will be strong. Preparatory thought is therefore being given to the public relations aspect of this event.

The choice of tactics for actually dealing with the march is essentially a matter for the Joint Security Committee – which is due to meet as usual on Thursday morning, 27 January. The Ministry of Defence and the Home Office are in touch respectively with the GOC and UK Rep about the line which they will be taking at that meeting.”


1 G73.454-456 2 G73.456

8th Infantry Brigade’s outline plan for 30th January 1972

9.335 8th Infantry Brigade’s outline plan for dealing with the march, together with a marked map, was forwarded to HQNI, arriving in time for General Ford to receive it by 0830 hours on 26th January 1972. This plan and the map have not survived. Colonel Steele, who drafted the plan, told this Inquiry that he thought that it would have identified the containment lines and also shown the force levels that were to be present.1 General Ford considered the plan on the morning of 26th January and ordered Brigadier MacLellan to come to HQNI that afternoon in order to discuss the plan.

1 Day 268/68-69

9.336 Those representing some of the families submitted to us that the outline plan must have contained no provision for an arrest operation.1 The evidence on which they relied in support of that assertion came from the written statement of Colonel Steele to this Inquiry.

1 FS1.721

9.337 The relevant part of that statement is as follows:1

“At the meeting, Brigadier MacLellan outlined how he proposed to contain the NICRA march with the force levels available to 8 Brigade. In essence, Brigadier MacLellan’s plan was to observe the march and contain it. I recall the CLF expressing a view at the meeting that this was an opportunity to arrest any hooligan element. Brigadier

MacLellan and I expected there to be hooligans present, and that therefore there would be violence. Accordingly, the CLF said that if the hooligans were going to be there he would allot us 1 PARA to carry out an arrest operation, and the CLF thought that this was a chance for a major scoop up operation. I did not question his stated ambition for a major scoop up operation of 300 to 400 hooligans, nor can I recall whether Brigadier MacLellan did. Afterwards, on further reflection, we both agreed that we would not use a specific figure of arrests in the Operation Order…”


1 B1315.003

9.338 This paragraph could be read as suggesting that the outline plan envisaged the use of 8th Infantry Brigade’s existing forces and did not contemplate an arrest operation on any scale. It is not entirely clear. However, in his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Steele said that he must have been aware, when drafting his outline plan, of the contents of Brigadier MacLellan’s note of his telephone conversation with General Ford on the morning of 25th January.1 That note made it clear that an arrest operation was contemplated and also identified the additional troops whom the CLF proposed at that stage to make available to 8th Infantry Brigade on 30th January. It seems likely that the outline plan did in fact contemplate an arrest operation. In any event, it is clear that at the meeting General Ford required Brigadier MacLellan to plan for such an operation.

1 Day 266/42-3

The meeting of the Director of Operations Committee

9.339 A meeting of the Director of Operations Committee took place at 1000 hours on 26th January 1972. The distribution list at the end of the minutes identifies those who attended.1 They included General Tuzo, General Ford, the Chief of Staff (Brigadier Tickell), the Director of Intelligence (David), the United Kingdom Representative (Howard Smith), the Chief Constable (Sir Graham Shillington) and the Head of RUC Special Branch (Assistant Chief Constable David Johnston).

1 Day 275/91

9.340 Under “Forthcoming Events” the minutes recorded:1

“5. NICRA March Londonderry – 30 Jan. Head of SB said that NICRA plans two marches; one from the Creggan to the Guildhall and the other from Shantallow to the Guildhall. The organisers are holding a further meeting on Thu 27 Jan to plan final arrangements and any further developments would be passed immediately to 8 Bde.

Three courses open to the Security Forces for the main march were then considered. These are:

a. To stop the march at its start point inside the Creggan.

b. To stop the march leaving the Bogside/Creggan area.

c. To stop the march short of the Guildhall.

6. After discussing the implications of each course it was agreed that the second course would be adopted, namely that the marchers would be prevented from leaving the Bogside and Creggan, and that barriers would be placed up to 200 yards inside these areas. It is hoped that speakers, particularly Lord Brockway, would not join the marchers; UK Govt Rep undertook to advice [sic] Lord Brockway accordingly.

7. The second march from Shantallow would be stopped near its starting point.

8. It was agreed that the Army would control the main march with RUC assistance, and that the RUC would deal with the second march, with military support if needed.

9. The Committee noted that there is a prospect of two or three days of unrest in the city if major confrontations take place on Sunday.”


1 G75.459-460

9.341 It is difficult to tell from the minutes the distinction that was being drawn between Courses (b) and (c). There is no record to identify the location “short of the Guildhall” that the Committee members might have considered a suitable place at which to stop the march. The reference under Course (b) to the barriers being placed up to 200 yards inside the Bogside and the Creggan suggests that the Committee contemplated at that time that the marchers would not be permitted to reach William Street. However, the plan devised by 8th Infantry Brigade, which must have been in purported compliance with the Committee’s decision to adopt Course (b), did not involve the placing of barriers within the Bogside but instead permitted the marchers to proceed along William Street and to reach a point fairly close to the Guildhall.

9.342 It seems likely that the committee members did not in fact discuss the routes or the location of barriers in great depth. It was not the role of this committee to determine matters of operational detail. The then Secretary of the Committee, Major INQ 1869, told this Inquiry that the purpose of the Director of Operations Committee meetings was “to decide the respective roles of the RUC and the army”. In the same paragraph, he continued:1

“It was a question of matching resources to suit the operational issues and problems faced at any one particular time … There would have been no discussion of which Regiments should be used by the army. This was an issue for CLF to determine. Nor would details of any proposed arrest operation have been discussed. Neither of these issues of relative detail would have warranted discussion at this senior level.”


1 C1869.3
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9.343 In his oral evidence, Major INQ 1869 confirmed that the placing of barriers was a matter of detail that the committee would not have discussed.1 However, he also appeared to accept that plans for an arrest operation on the scale contemplated should have been put forward at the meeting. He was certain that the operation was not mentioned.2 He rejected the suggestion that a reason for the failure of General Tuzo or General Ford to mention the planned arrest operation was that they wanted to conceal it from the RUC.3 If neither of the Generals did mention the arrest operation, we do not accept that this was by way of deliberate concealment, because we can see no reason for the operation to be concealed from the RUC or from anyone else present at the meeting.

1 Day 275/61 3 Day 275/92

2 Day 275/93-94

9.344 The minutes do not record there having been any reference to the receipt of intelligence about the republican paramilitaries’ plans for the march. The Tribunal is aware of information about these plans that the Security Service officer Julian received from the agent Observer C on 26th January 1972. We refer to this in more detail below. The intelligence concerned the situation as Observer C reported it to be at midday on 26th January – after the meeting had started and possibly after it had finished. It was not until the evening of 26th January that Julian passed on orally to David the information that he had been given.1 It seems to us that the intelligence cannot have reached the members of the Director of Operations Committee while the meeting was still in progress. It is impossible to tell whether the committee was in possession of any other relevant intelligence at that time, since the report by David to the committee under the heading “Intelligence Review” was not minuted.

1 KJ4.69; G81A.511.2

9.345 In his statement to this Inquiry, Chief Constable Sir Graham Shillington said that Chief Superintendent Lagan’s views had been taken into account at the Director of Operations Committee meeting.1 There is no express reference in the minutes to the advice of Chief Superintendent Lagan but the meeting’s decision to stop the march clearly amounted to a rejection of that advice.

1 JS8.11

The meeting between Major General Ford and Brigadier MacLellan on 26th January 1972

9.346 On the afternoon of 26th January 1972 Brigadier MacLellan attended a meeting with General Ford, as the latter had required. Also present were Lieutenant Colonel INQ 1877, who was the General Staff Officer, Grade 1 – Operations (GSO1 Ops) at HQNI, Brigadier MacLellan and Colonel Steele, who made notes of the meeting.

9.347 Colonel Steele told this Inquiry that he used his notes that night in order to draft the Brigade Operation Order. He said that “having incorporated into the operation order all the direction that had been given by the CLF” he destroyed his notes.1 No other note of the meeting was taken or survives. However, Colonel Steele later helped Brigadier MacLellan to draft the Brigadier’s statement for the Widgery Inquiry. The first draft of that statement included a paragraph which set out the directions given by the CLF at the meeting on 26th January 1972. In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Steele said that he thought that he had used the Operation Order itself in order to remind himself of the directions given and to draft the relevant paragraph.2 A paragraph setting out the directions in essentially identical terms appears in General Ford’s written statement for the Widgery Inquiry.3 All of the directions set out there are to be found in the Brigade Operation Order. We have no reason to doubt that the terms of these statements accurately reflect the directions given by General Ford at the meeting.

1 Day 266/47 3 B1208.077

2 Day 266/47

9.348 The relevant paragraph (taken from paragraph 8 of the first draft of the statement of Brigadier MacLellan) is as follows:1

“8. My Brigade Major, Lieutenant Colonel MCM [Michael] Steele, accompanied me to this meeting at which the Commander Land Forces directed that:

a. The containment of the Creggan March would be a Military Operation with the RUC in support, and the military in command at all levels.

b. The dispersal of illegal marches in other parts of the City, and the control of the actual Meeting Point, in Shipquay Place, would be an RUC responsibility with the Military in support.

c. Any action required to deal with an organised protest sit-down would be an RUC responsibility, and that troops would not be used to disperse such a protest.

d. The event was to be handled in as low a key as possible, and for as long as possible. To this end:

(1) Troops were to take no action against the Marchers until either an attempt was made to breach the blocking points, or violence erupted, in the form of stone, bottle and nail bomb attacks against the Security Forces.

(2) CS gas was NOT to be used throughout the event, except as a last resort, and only if troops were about to be over-run, and the rioters could no longer be held off with baton rounds and water cannon.

(3) Ringleaders of the March need not necessarily be arrested on the spot, but should be identified and arrested at a later stage.

(4) If the March took place entirely in the Bogside and Creggan it was to be permitted to continue unchallenged.

(5) Blocking points should be emplaced as late as possible before the arrival of a March contingent to allow normal traffic to flow until the last possible moment.

e. Once the blocking points had been emplaced no Marchers were to be allowed to proceed through them, except in cases of genuine emergency.

f. The hooligan element was not to be permitted to damage Business, Shopping and Protestant areas of Londonderry. To this end he directed that Tactical Headquarters and 3 Companies of the 1st Parachute Regiment should be held centrally behind the blocking points in the William Street area, and if an opportunity arose, launched in a scoop-up operation to arrest as many rioters and hooligans as possible.

g. Blocking points were to be established as far forward as possible, to keep any violence in the Bogside and Creggan areas, and prevent it from overflowing into the Business and Shopping areas.

h. The maximum number of soldiers were to be ‘in the shop window’. They were to be covered by deployment of Observation Posts and by a very large number of snipers, in the anti-sniper role. These Observation Posts and snipers were to be deployed to every possible vantage point…

j. A full photographic record was to be made of the event, including cine colour photography from a helicopter. The developed and printed films were to be delivered to Headquarters Northern Ireland by 1800 hours on 30th January.

k. Finally the Commander Land Forces allocated me additional troops:

(1) 1 KINGS OWN BORDER

(2) 3 RRF (of two companies, and to be used as a Brigade Mobile Reserve).

(3) 1 PARA (three companies of which were to be used as a Brigade Arrest Force).”


1 B1279.015–017

9.349 At the meeting General Ford approved Brigadier MacLellan’s plan and instructed him to prepare a Brigade order in accordance with it.1

1 WT10.9

9.350 In a draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, General Ford recorded:1

“12. During the course of this meeting I gave the directions verbally to the Brigade Commander as to matters required to be included in his Operations Order.

13. In considering the instructions which I gave to Commander 8 Brigade, who was responsible for the planning and implementation of the operation and who therefore prepared the detailed plan, I considered the following factors:

a. The likely strength of the marchers, their probable routes, and their intentions.

b. The threat from the gunmen and the hooligans.

c. The task given to me [by the Director of Operations Committee] to prevent the march from leaving the Bogside and Creggan.

d. The requirement for identifying and if possible arresting those marching illegally and the possible arrest of any hooligan element.

14. In the two weeks prior to the march, the IRA had been particularly active within the City and 319 shots were fired on the Security Forces in 80 separate incidents and a total of 84 nail bombs were thrown at them. Security Force casualties during this period were two killed and three wounded. Two features of the IRA tactics in these attacks were the deliberate use of crowd cover (demonstrators or the general public in shopping areas) and the use of the hooligan elements in creating suitable opportunities for attacks against the Security Forces. A reliable and detailed intelligence report received during the week preceding the march confirmed earlier reports by including the forecast that the IRA would be using the crowd and hooligan cover technique during the march on 30th January to provide opportunities for attacks on the Security Forces.

15. … It was the threat from the youths [ie the hooligans] allied to their well known tactics of operating in conjunction with the gunmen and supported by the intelligence reports I had received that the IRA would be taking advantage of their presence, which were uppermost in my mind when formulating the plan for blocking the march.”


1 B1142-1143

9.351 The Inquiry has not found any relevant intelligence report which was available to General Ford on 26th January 1972 and which warned of the risk that paramilitary republicans would take advantage of the presence of hooligans.

9.352 In his supplementary statement for the Widgery Inquiry, General Ford said:1

“We normally have insufficient troops in Londonderry to launch a major arrest operation. Secondly, it is difficult to achieve surprise. Thirdly, on an average afternoon only 20 to 50 of the hooligans operate.

I anticipated that the hooligans would turn out in something approaching their full strength on this occasion. One of my anxieties was that after the inevitable emotional speeches the hooligans would be reinforced by a thousand or more of the marchers and would bear down on Waterloo Place with the aim of swamping our troops and causing extensive damage to the shopping centre. Such a major riot would have been difficult to counter … I foresaw that if such an event happened the level of violence in Londonderry would be very high for anything up to three days after the march.

On the other hand, if an opportunity did occur before the end of the rally when the hooligans were separated from the main crowd and we could have arrested a large number of them, I hoped by this means we would have prevented a major escalation of violence later that evening.”


1 B1152-1153

9.353 In his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry, General Ford added that he had been informed that there were 500 hooligans in Londonderry, of whom 250 were “hardcore”.1

1 B1162

9.354 Colonel Steele said that he could not now recall a discussion with General Ford about the General’s ambition to arrest 300–400 rioters but he had no doubt that such a discussion had taken place.1 He said it had not been for him to tell General Ford that the numbers were unrealistic but that he and Brigadier MacLellan had agreed afterwards that they would not include these unachievable figures in the Operation Order.2 It seems, though, that by this stage General Ford had come to realise that his initial figure was too ambitious; his evidence is that, as the march drew nearer, the figure was scaled down to a proposed figure that may have been as low as 80.3 He did not think that administrative arrangements to arrest 300–400 were put in place. General Ford did not say in his evidence when the numbers were reduced; he did not recall either his telephone call with Brigadier MacLellan or the meeting on 26th January 1972 and his memory on this topic was vague.4 Had he at the meeting spoken of a plan to arrest 300–400 then it seems to us that the Operation Order, drafted within hours of the meeting, would have had to deal with the arrangements necessary for the reception of over 300 prisoners. It should be noted at this point that Colonel Wilford was quoted in the Times on 1st February 1972 as having said that the Army had hoped to arrest 200–300 but had only managed to catch 50–60.5 He was not, of course, at the meeting and it may be that Colonel Wilford had not been made aware that the figures had been revised downwards.

1 Day 268/1

2 B1315.003; Day 268/1

3 Day 254/45
4 Day 254/44; Day 256/20

5 L130


9.355 Colonel Steele’s recollection was that he was able to demonstrate at the meeting on 26th January 1972 that the most efficient deployment of troops on 30th January lay, in essence, in each local company remaining in the area in which it was usually deployed. Some of these companies were outside the city of Londonderry and so were not available to be used to police the march. At the time, the Coldstream Guards and 22 Lt AD Regt were responsible for the city. 1 CG had only three companies in the city and was badly undermanned. Only one company of 2 RGJ and two of 1 R ANGLIAN were available to help in the city, the remaining companies of these battalions being deployed on other tasks in the county of Londonderry. According to Colonel Steele, Brigadier MacLellan asked General Ford at the meeting for six additional companies to be provided to 8th Infantry Brigade in order to deal with the march. General Ford agreed, and said that the Brigade would be given a battalion (consisting of four companies) of 1 KOB, who would support 1 CG, and two companies of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who would act as a reserve. In addition, three companies of 1 PARA would be present to carry out any arrest operation. A further company of 1 PARA would be provided to act as an additional reserve.1

1 Day 268/149-154

9.356 Colonel Steele went on to say:1

“… the reason why I have gone into all that in some detail … is because this is the reason why 1 Royal Anglian and 2 RGJ were just not able to be able to do any other task than that given to them and, furthermore, that if there was to be an arrest operation, it made absolute sense that it should be done by one complete unit.”


1 Day 268/155

9.357 He could not recall, though, whether the commitment of the local battalions to other tasks was a reason given during the course of the meeting for the selection of 1 PARA as the arrest force.1 However, it should be borne in mind that General Ford had already ordered that 1 PARA should be the arrest force. Thus it was not open to Colonel Steele or Brigadier MacLellan to give the arrest task to any other unit and so the availability of companies of the local battalions was irrelevant. There seems to us to have been no reason for a discussion at the meeting of their availability.

1 Day 266/47

9.358 Colonel Steele’s written evidence to this Inquiry was that there was no discussion at the meeting about the use of 1 PARA as an arrest force.1 This is consistent with the recollection of Brigadier MacLellan who said:2

“I was given a direct order by General Ford to launch an arrest operation if the soldiers were attacked by the hooligans and he specifically allotted 1 PARA for the task. This was not a matter for debate and there was no discretion as far as
I was concerned.”


1 Day 266/46 2 B1279.033

9.359 General Ford, asked at this Inquiry to comment on this passage from Brigadier MacLellan’s evidence, replied, “I would agree with every word”.1

1 Day 256/20

9.360 Brigadier MacLellan thought that the term “scoop-up”, which was not one that he would have used, was first used by General Ford in their telephone conversation on 25th January 1972.1 Colonel Steele recalled General Ford using the term “scoop-up” to describe the task that he wanted 1 PARA to perform. It was not a term that the Brigade Major had previously heard, although he regarded it as self-explanatory. He said that there was no discussion at the meeting about the way in which 1 PARA would be expected to get around the back of the hooligans in order to arrest them.2 He thought that, having been ordered to conduct an arrest operation and given the troops to do it, it was up to 8th Infantry Brigade to execute the CLF’s direction and write the Operation Order.3

1 Day 261/55

2 Day 266/47-48
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9.361 Brigadier MacLellan also recalled that there was no discussion at the meeting about how the paratroopers would get behind the rioters: his view was that the Commanding Officer of 1 PARA was to be given a straightforward task of arresting as many hooligans as possible and that “the actual details of the tactical plan … were up to the commanding officer [of 1 PARA]”.1

1 Day 261/54

9.362 When he gave evidence to the Widgery Inquiry, General Ford was shown paragraph 9(f) of 8th Infantry Brigade’s Operation Order for 30th January 1972,1 which was drafted on 28th January and which stated that the arrest operation would be likely to take place on two axes, one in the area of William Street and Little Diamond and one in the area of William Street and Little James Street. (We consider this Operation Order below.)
He was then questioned further about the plans that had existed on 26th January for the arrest operation:2

“Q. Was it envisaged on the 26th January that the scoop-up operation would involve troops going to the northern end of the Rossville Flats?

A. The northern end of the Rossville Flats was not specifically mentioned, but the principle, if you would like me – it was always intended that if an opportunity occurred the scoop-up operation would be such that someone would be able to get behind the hooligans. Otherwise there was no object in launching it.

Q. That is what my Lord would probably have expected. You wanted to get behind them and then trap them between the troops and the barricades?

A. That is correct.

Q. What I am asking you at the moment is in order to do that it was envisaged that the troops might advance some hundreds of yards into the Bogside?

A. In fact, there was no discussion at that meeting about the details of the scoop-up operation. It was a matter for the Brigade Commander.

Q. Does that answer, General, go also to such detailed matters as to how the people who were rioters should be distinguished from those who were not, apart from the fact that most of the peaceful march had proceeded beyond that area? Was there any discussion as to how there was to be a distinction between the rioters and people who were not rioters but who might have been left behind from the main body of the march?

A. No, there was no discussion except that there was mention of the fact that there must be a favourable opportunity to launch the operation.

Q. What in that context was regarded as a favourable opportunity?

A. Separation of the marchers from the hooligans.

Q. Those are the only two topics that were mentioned at your discussion with the Brigadier on this sibject [sic]?

A. In the arrest operation, yes.

Q. That answer also includes such detailed matters as to how arrest squads were to be armed and equipped?

A. Oh yes, definitely.”


1 G95.570 2 WT10.48-49

9.363 General Ford, when giving evidence to this Inquiry, had no recollection of the discussions at the meeting on 26th January 1972. We would be surprised if separation had been discussed in detail at the meeting and are not persuaded that it was. It seems to us that in the context of the meeting a “favourable opportunity” would have been one which permitted the troops to get behind the rioters in order to trap them; previous attempts at frontal assaults on rioters had proved futile. Those present at the meeting concentrated on the need for there to be such a favourable opportunity for arrests to be made. It follows that the evidence that General Ford gave to the Widgery Inquiry on this topic was inaccurate.

9.364 We do not criticise General Ford for not having given more detailed instructions to Brigadier MacLellan or for having failed to say in terms that any arrest operation should be so planned to ensure that only rioters, and not peaceful marchers, were caught. It was for 8th Infantry Brigade, having been given the task of dealing with the march and, if necessary, for making arrests, to create an adequate and detailed plan for doing so.

Information received from Observer C on 26th January 1972

9.365 Reference has been made above to the information provided by Observer C on 26th January 1972. The intelligence that he provided is recorded in two file notes, one made by Julian and the second by his colleague, James.

9.366 The relevant part of Julian’s note is as follows:1

“NOTE FOR FILE

I saw [Observer C] at [Observer D’s] house on 26th January. Apart from the intelligence in the note for file at serial […] he also gave me the following, which was passed by me verbally to David […] that evening.

2. Plans for the march were as follows:-
Form up point was to be at Bishopsfield by the rounda-bout near St. Mary’s Church down Eastway and Westland St., Rossville St., and William St., Waterloo Pl. and then to the Guildhall. The marchers would prefer, however, after leaving Eastway to proceed via Lonemoor Rd, Infirmary Road down Gt. James St. to Waterloo Place as this route took in a greater [number] of Flashpoints, including the R.U.C. station in Strand Rd. The marchers were expecting to meet security forces road blocks and had made plans for alternative routes if necessary. They were also prepared to cause diversions to draw troops from the main route, using their hooligan element. These diversions were probably taking place in the Brandywell area.

3. Speakers at the Guildhall were expected to be Lord Brockway who was not, himself, marching; Bernadette Devlin; Eamon McCann; John Hume; Frank McManus.”


1 KJ4.71

9.367 The note is dated 31st January 1972.

9.368 The additional file note to which Julian referred in the first paragraph of his note was also dated 31st January 1972 and was signed by Julian’s colleague, James. This note was in the following terms:1

“NOTE FOR FILE

On Monday 31st January at about 9.45 a.m. David […] phoned and asked me to pass over, within half an hour, the gist of the intelligence we had given to him verbally during the previous week when Julian […] was in Northern Ireland and in touch with [Observer C].

2. Accordingly I phoned Brigadier Lewis … who was not available, but passed the following message to his Staff Officer:-

‘A reliable source, […] reported on 26th January that the organisers of this Londonderry march on 30th January were planning their route to pass the maximum number of flashpoints and had prepared alternative routes as they knew they would be stopped by the security forces. It was believed that the marchers would be armed with stones and bottles and that the I.R.A. would use the crowd as cover for sniping attacks on the security forces. The organisers were determined to have their revenge for Magilligan, which they regarded as

a humiliating defeat. Also that the hooligan element would be used to create diversions and draw the troops away from the main route.’

3. The above message was passed to M.O.D. at approx. 10.10 a.m. on 31st January 1972.”


1 KJ4.74

9.369 Brigadier Lewis was a member of the Defence Intelligence Staff at the MoD in London.

9.370 The information attributed to Observer C in these file notes of James and Julian is reproduced in a signal, which David sent to Brigadier MacLellan on the morning of 27th January 1972. We deal with that signal in more detail below. There is one minor discrepancy in that James’s file note referred to the marchers being armed with “stones and bottles” and the signal suggested that they would be armed with “sticks and stones”. In our view this slight inaccuracy in reporting Observer C’s information is insignificant.

9.371 We accept that Observer C provided information to Julian on 26th January 1972 and that the two file notes reflect accurately the information that he provided. We are satisfied that Observer C was a reliable agent. We have no reason to believe that Julian did anything other than pass on information with which he had been provided. At that time, neither Observer C nor anyone within the Security Service would have expected Observer C’s information ever to become public. We do not believe that Observer C had any reason to lie or that any Security Service officer had any reason to fabricate these file notes.

9.372 We do not know how or from whom Observer C obtained any of the information that he relayed to Julian. As it turned out, there were elements of truth in the information provided by Observer C. We know that some marchers were indeed armed with sticks and stones. We accept that Observer C received this information and have no reason to believe that he did anything other than pass it on in good faith. We deal in the course of this report in more detail with the plans of the organisers of the march, of the paramilitary republicans and of the hooligan element. Suffice it to say at this stage that, although aspects of Observer C’s report proved to be accurate, others did not.

9.373 Observers C and D both died before their relevance to this Inquiry became known and so could not be questioned. In reaching our findings concerning the information provided by Observer C, we have taken into account the evidence to this Inquiry of Julian, who, as Observer C’s handler, gave evidence to us about the reliability and access to information of this agent. Julian’s evidence was:1

“My recollection, which I have confirmed by reviewing Observer C’s agent file, is that he was a very reliable agent. The source report file shows that, by July 1970, Observer C was described as reliable ie his reporting had been substantiated by other intelligence or borne out by events … In the weeks prior to Bloody Sunday, he produced a series of reports about attitudes among the Republican community in Londonderry to the Army and to the IRA; plans for civil unrest and the IRA’s activities locally. While he was not a member of the IRA and therefore did not have direct access to its decision making, Observer C was a very accurate observer of events around him and was a member of community groups such as the Londonderry Tenants Association. He was thus well placed to report on reactions to British Government policy in Northern Ireland and on plans for protest marches, demonstrations etc.”


1 KJ4.32

9.374 In addition, we have considered material that was provided to us by the Security Service, that we have not been able to make public and that concerns the background, reliability and access to information of Observers C and D. This includes information that assisted us in assessing the extent of the access that Observer C had to republican paramilitaries in Londonderry and therefore the extent to which he was able to obtain reliable information about their plans. In order to protect the lives of others, we cannot provide to the public further details of the material that we have considered.

9.375 It was submitted to us on behalf of some of the families that it is curious that the file notes setting out Observer C’s information were themselves drafted after Bloody Sunday.1 We see nothing sinister in this. Julian explained that the notes were compiled when it was safe and convenient for this to be done. There seems to us to be no reason to suspect that these documents were manufactured dishonestly; they were not used publicly in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday to justify the Army’s conduct on the day.

1 FS1.801

9.376 It was further suggested to us that Julian lied to this Inquiry in saying that he had forgotten, until reminded during the course of the Inquiry, about the existence of Observer C.1 We reject this suggestion. Many years have passed since Julian dealt with Observer C. We understand that it was he who during the course of this Inquiry reminded members of the Security Service about Observer C, having recalled the existence of the agent. Such conduct is inconsistent with any wish to conceal his knowledge of Observer C.

1 FS1.801

9.377 As we have already noted, it was during the night of 26/27th January 1972 that Colonel Steele drafted the Operation Order for the 30th January march. His draft was ready for the morning meeting of 8th Infantry Brigade staff officers, which commenced at 0830 hours on 27th January. The information provided by Observer C on 26th January was not available to Colonel Steele when he drafted the order, as 8th Infantry Brigade did not receive it until 27th January.

The signal sent by David on 27th January 1972

9.378 At 1010 hours on 27th January 1972, David sent a signal to Brigadier MacLellan, which contained a summary of the intelligence provided by Observer C on the previous day. David copied the signal to Assistant Chief Constable Johnston, saying that the signal was based on information that had come from London and explaining that he had first sent the signal to Brigadier MacLellan as the Brigadier was having a planning meeting that morning.1 Julian explained to this Inquiry that the reference to the information having come from London indicated that he, Julian, had returned to London by the time that the information was transmitted in writing, or that he had sent the information to James who was at that time in London, or simply that the information was regarded as having come from London because Julian was London-based, even though he may have been in Northern Ireland at the time.2

1 G81A.511.1
2 Day 326/59-61


9.379 The relevant part of the signal is as follows:1

“Following is personal for Commander from Director of Intelligence:

One. The source known to you has provided the following information about plans for the march on 30 Jan as at about noon on 26 Jan. We believe that there is to be a further planning meeting and you should regard the information in this signal as tentative.

Two. The meeting is to form up at Bishops Field and to proceed via the roundabout in St Mary’s Church and east way. The organisers expect that it will be stopped and ... have alternative routes from there on, the preferred one being Lonemoor Road/Infirmary Road/Great James’s Street and thence to the Guildhall through Waterloo Place. The route passes the maximum number of flashpoints. If prevented from following that route, the alternative is Westland Street and Rossville Street.

Three. The organisers are considering a possible diversion in the Brandywell area using young hooligans whom they would prefer out of the way of the March.

Four. Source believes that the marchers will be armed with sticks and stones and he expects that the IRA will use the crowd as cover. The organisers are determined to have their revenge to what they regard as a humiliating defeat at Magilligan where they found themselves with nothing more lethal than sand to throw. They are determined to get to the Guildhall come what may.

Five. Speakers will include Bernadette Devlin, Eamon McCann, John Hume and Frank McManus. Lord Brockway is also likely to speak but it is understood he will not take part in the march. From this, it seems possible that the nucleus of the meeting will form up in Guildhall Square independently of the march.”


1 G81A.511.2-3; G81A.511.5

9.380 The intelligence set out in the signal is clearly that supplied to Julian by Observer C on the previous day. The majority of the information provided by Observer C concerns the plans of the organisers of the march. The information of greatest interest to the Inquiry, however, is Observer C’s report that he expected the IRA to use the crowd as cover.

9.381 Julian, in evidence to this Inquiry, could not remember whether Observer C had ever mentioned the basis of his belief that the IRA would use the crowd in this way. Julian was able only to say:1

“I should think [the belief] was one of either Observer C himself or one of his subsources or general feeling within the population, I do not know.”


1 Day 325/70

9.382 Colonel Steele and Brigadier MacLellan, in evidence to this Inquiry, said that they did not recall seeing the signal, although Brigadier MacLellan accepted that he must have received it.1 Colonel Steele told us that he was surprised to see in the signal the reference to marchers being armed with sticks and stones, since he had been told that the marchers would be orderly and peaceful.2

1 Day 261/64-65 2Day 266/76

9.383 The information contained in the signal does not appear to have caused any change of plan at 8th Infantry Brigade. The Operation Order for the march on 30th January 1972 (which we consider in more detail below) included, under the heading “Background”:1

“f. We expect a hooligan element to accompany the marches, and anticipate an intensification of the normal level of hooliganism and rioting during and after the march. Almost certainly snipers, petrol bombers and nail bombers will support the rioters.

g. Bombers may intensify their efforts to destroy Business and Shopping premises in the City Centre during the event, while the attention of the Security Forces is directed towards the containment of the march.”


1 G95.565

9.384 In the same document, the following “threat” was identified:

“b. IRA terrorist activity, to take advantage of the event, to conduct shooting attacks against the Security Forces, and bombing attacks against Business, Shopping and Commercial premises in the City Centre.”


9.385 The Operation Order was drafted before receipt of the signal. There is nothing to suggest that there was any amendment to the Operation Order following the arrival of the signal. In our view the paragraph in the Operation Order referring to IRA terrorist activity as one of the threats faced by the Security Forces was drafted before the signal was received and was not added later as a result of it. The risk of attack from either or both the Provisional and the Official IRA and the likelihood of hooligan activity were clearly matters that the security forces were bound to take into account, bearing in mind the security situation at the time.

9.386 Brigadier MacLellan, in his oral evidence to this Inquiry, referred to the warning, contained in the signal, that:1

“Source believes that the marchers will be armed with sticks and stones and he expects that the IRA will use the crowd as cover. The organisers are determined to have their revenge to what they regard as a humiliating defeat at Magilligan … they are determined to get to the Guildhall…”


1 Day 261/66

He added that it told 8th Infantry Brigade nothing that the officers either did not already know or had not anticipated as a possibility. We accept that this was the case.

9.387 It does appear that the signal provided one new piece of information on which 8th Infantry Brigade acted. As will have been seen, the signal contained the warning:1

“The organisers are considering a possible diversion in the Brandywell area using young hooligans whom they would prefer out of the way of the March.”
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

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1 Day 261/70

9.388 In Brigadier MacLellan’s notes for the co-ordinating conference, which he held with the battalion commanders on the following day (28th January 1972), there is a reference to intelligence having been received of a threat to the Brandywell.1 It seems clear that the Army’s knowledge of potential trouble in the Brandywell area came from the signal sent by David to Brigadier MacLellan on 27th January. Colonel Steele in his oral evidence to this Inquiry accepted that this was the case.2

1 G88.538 2 Day 266/77

9.389 The signal is recorded as having been sent by David to Assistant Chief Constable Johnston, and to Brigadier MacLellan. A manuscript annotation on the covering letter indicates that the letter was also seen by the Chief Constable, the Assistant Chief Constable (Operations) and by Detective Chief Inspector Samuel Donnelly, Head of RUC Special Branch in Londonderry.1 Detective Chief Inspector Donnelly told this Inquiry that he had no recollection of having seen or read the signal.2 In his written statement to this Inquiry, Chief Superintendent Lagan told us:3

“I had heard prior to Bloody Sunday from information that originated from the army that the IRA would be present in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday to do the usual (i.e. to use guns) … Following assessment, I did not put any particular weight on this intelligence.”


1 G81A.511.1 3 JL1.6-7

2 Day 423/5

9.390 It seems likely that Chief Superintendent Lagan was referring to the information contained in the signal. However, by the time that the signal came to the notice of this Inquiry he was too ill to be shown it or to be asked further questions. We were unable to ask Sir Graham Shillington (the then Chief Constable), Assistant Chief Constable Corbett or Assistant Chief Constable Johnston for their recollections because each had either died or become too ill to be asked by the time that the Inquiry obtained the signal. Colonel Wilford did not recall having seen the signal or having been informed of its contents.1

1 Day 312/10-12

9.391 David, in his written evidence to this Inquiry, stated that he could remember nothing about the signal.1 In his oral evidence, he said that he did recollect the intelligence contained in the signal.2 It seems to us that David might have been confused when giving this answer. It is inconsistent with the rest of his written and oral evidence. In his oral evidence3 he appeared to know nothing about the origin of the information or how he came to compile the signal.

1 KD2.4 3 Day 330/76

2 Day 330/24

9.392 Despite our inability to question all known recipients of the signal, it seems to us from all the other evidence that the senior Army and police officers responsible for dealing with the march did not regard the signal as providing them with information of great value. It did not cause the security forces to change their tactics for the day and was not sufficiently memorable for its recipients, or even its sender, to recall it many years later.

9.393 Only one copy of the signal has been located. It was in microfilm form and was found in 2002 within the archives of the Police Service of Northern Ireland when a check was being made to ensure that all relevant information had been brought to the attention of this Inquiry. The signal was on a microfilm that had been overlooked when the police first provided documents to the Inquiry in 1999. We have no doubt that a genuine error was made in that in 1999 the RUC (as the police service then was) wrongly but honestly believed the microfilm to be a copy of a film already made available to the Inquiry. The Security Service and the MoD were unable to locate any copy of the signal within their own files. It was suggested on behalf of some of the families that the signal had been deliberately withheld from the Inquiry for a number of years by the Security Service and the MoD.1 We reject that suggestion. There is no evidence to support it. Further, we can see no way in which these organisations, or any other state agency, could have benefited, or expected to benefit, from withholding this document for three years.

1 FS1.132; FS1.135

Other references to intelligence

9.394 There has been controversy over the extent of the intelligence available to the security forces before the march about the plans of paramilitaries for the day. The signal is the only document which has survived and which (a) contains relevant intelligence material and (b) is known to have reached Brigadier MacLellan and other officers making the security forces’ plans for the march.

9.395 Documents have been provided to the Inquiry that refer to the receipt of intelligence material but that do not identify that material. The following passage appears in the HQNI Operational Summary for the week ending 28th January 1972:1

“The march in Londonderry will present particular problems, and a greater than usual opportunity for demonstrating the difficulties of preventing violations of the ban in Republican areas. Intelligence reports indicate that the IRA are determined to produce a major confrontation by one means or another during the march.”


1 G83.526

9.396 We are not aware of any intelligence reports, other than the report of Observer C, to which the author of the Operational Summary could have been referring. It is possible that the author was referring to the information provided by Observer B to IO1 on 25th and 27th January about paramilitaries drilling before the march. However, we have seen no evidence to indicate that any information given to IO1 was passed on, either to HQNI or at all. If IO1 did pass Observer B’s information to HQNI, there is nothing to suggest that this information reached those responsible for dealing with the march.

9.397 The Northern Ireland Weekly Intelligence Report of 28th January 1972 was compiled in London by Brigadier Lewis of the Defence Intelligence Staff. Part of this report contains the following:1

“The march in Londonderry will present particularly difficult problems for the security forces. We estimate that as many as 12000 Catholics from the Creggan and Bogside will march come what may to the Assembly Area at the Guildhall. Apart from a hard core of professional hooligans who will certainly be seeking to exploit the situation as the rally disperses if not before, gunmen may be present.”


1 G85.532

9.398 The absence of any express reference to the receipt of intelligence makes it difficult to determine whether Brigadier Lewis was relying on specific information about the likely presence of gunmen or was expressing an opinion based simply on his general knowledge of the situation in Londonderry.

9.399 Colonel Dalzell-Payne, the head of MO4, the MoD branch responsible for Northern Ireland, used the above extract from Brigadier Lewis’ report to brief the press after Bloody Sunday.1 In an article in the Times on 1st February 1972, Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s briefing was reported to have included the information that:2

“Weekend intelligence reports indicated that ‘the Londonderry march would cause problems: apart from the hard core of hooligans who will be seeking to exploit the situation, gunmen may be present’.”


1 Day 245/27-28 2L128

9.400 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Dalzell-Payne said that he had guessed that Brigadier Lewis’ information was based on intelligence but did not know what that intelligence was.1

1 Day 245/27

9.401 Reports drafted after 30th January 1972 contain references to the receipt before the march of more than one piece of intelligence. Brigadier Marston Tickell, General Tuzo’s Chief of Staff at HQNI, wrote a report dated 31st January 1972 which included the following passage:1

“A reliable and detailed intelligence report received during the week preceding the march confirmed earlier reports by including the forecast that the IRA would be using the crowd and hooligan cover technique during the march on 30 January to provide opportunities for attacks on the Security Forces.”


1 G102.610

9.402 It is possible that one of the “earlier reports” was the report from Observer B. However, Observer B’s reports contained no reference to the potential use by the IRA of the crowd and/or hooligans as cover. We have not been able to trace any additional earlier reports; whether or not there were such reports remains a matter of doubt in our minds. Brigadier Tickell was unable to assist; he thought that he would have seen the “reliable and detailed intelligence report” (which seems overwhelmingly likely to have been the signal sent by David) but could not recall having seen either that or any other report.1

1 CT1.4; CT1.57; Day 244/132

9.403 Lieutenant Colonel Overbury and Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton (the latter being GSO1 (Plans) and a member of the HQNI team responsible for the preparation of Army evidence for the Widgery Inquiry) also used the same passage in their Summary of Events dated 5th February 1972.1

1 G116.754

9.404 On 1st February 1972, speaking in the House of Commons, Lord Balniel, the Minister of State for Defence, said:1

“Intelligence information had given the security forces good reason to believe that the I.R.A. would exploit the opportunities afforded by the march and subsequent rioting to mount attacks on the security forces.”


1 G106.644

9.405 According to paragraphs 14 and 15 of 8th Infantry Brigade’s IntSum 102 of 2nd February 1972:1

“14. The Intelligence assessment made before the march was confirmed by events – the organisers, intent on defying the ban, led the marchers into direct confrontation with the Security Forces, then lost control of the hooligans, and the IRA took advantage of the situation to attack troops using snipers and nailbombers.

15. … On 26 Jan a reliable source reported from the Creggan that the marchers would be armed with sticks and stones and that they were determined to avenge the humiliation of Magilligan on 22 Jan. It was also reported that the IRA intended to begin shooting using the crowd as cover. All these predictions and reports were proved correct.”


1 G108.655

9.406 The accuracy of paragraph 14 is something that we consider when dealing with the march itself.1 Suffice here to record that in the end the organisers did not lead the marchers into direct confrontation with the security forces, but their stewards did lose control when attempting to direct the marchers away from the barrier in William Street.

1 Chapters 13–15

9.407 Paragraph 15 is clearly based upon the information contained in the signal. As will be seen from our detailed consideration of the events of the day, the predictions and reports said to be correct in this IntSum were in fact largely incorrect, though there were some on the march who wanted to confront the soldiers because of what happened at Magilligan Strand, and who had armed themselves with sticks and stones.1 Further, the language of the IntSum suggests that the information in the signal was more definite in its terms than in fact it was. The signal recorded that the source (Observer C) “expects that the IRA will use the crowd as cover”.2 According to the IntSum, there was a report “that the IRA intended to begin shooting using the crowd as cover”.

1 Paragraphs 14.3–4 2 G81A.511.5

9.408 The HQNI IntSum for the week ending 2nd February 1972 (5/72)1 also contains a paragraph referring to the receipt of intelligence before the march. It is apparent that the reference is to the intelligence contained in the signal:

“From an intelligence point of view the interesting factors were, firstly a forecast that the IRA would attempt to use the marchers as cover to mount attacks on security forces, and secondly that there were those amongst the organisers who were determined that the march should be a revenge for Magilligan the previous Sunday, which they regarded as a failure and during which they had nothing more lethal to throw than sand.”


1 G110.673

9.409 Paragraph 2 of the Special Branch Assessment for the period ending 3rd February 1972 was as follows:1

“Prior to the Londonderry march there had been reliable intelligence that the IRA intended to exploit the presence of crowds as cover for their gunmen and that the organisers expected the march to be stopped but were determined to reach the Guildhall to make up for what they regarded as the fiasco of the Magilligan demonstration where, according to themselves, they had nothing more lethal than sand to throw at the Security Forces. According to an interview reported in the Irish Press of 1st February, a leading member of the Brady IRA admitted that his men had been behind the parade, with guns, but had not been allowed in the vanguard of the parade.”


1 G112.697

9.410 The reference to an interview in the Irish Press newspaper appears to be a reference to an interview with an unnamed member of the Provisional IRA, in which the man is quoted as saying, in response to the allegation made by General Ford that his men had come under fire:1

“‘I can state definitely that each and every one of our men were ordered to stay from the top of the march and to remain behind with their guns.

‘None of them was involved in any shootings and it was not until it was all over that they were able to get in to shoot a few sporadic rounds at the troops.’”


1 L110; Irish Press 1st February 1972

9.411 At the time to which the signal referred, the reference to the organisers being adamant that they would go to the Guildhall is likely to be accurate. As discussed later in this report,1 it was not until a late stage that the organisers decided instead for the march to go to Free Derry Corner. It was suggested by those acting on behalf of some of the families that the information in the signal given by David was not:2

“… believed to be accurate by those in the Security Service who were responsible for creating or relaying it”


and they voiced their suspicion that it was:

“… created and/or forwarded to 8th Brigade in order to put on record an ‘IRA threat’ which could be used after the event to assist in pinning responsibility on the IRA for any civilian casualties which might occur.”


1 Paragraphs 15.1–5 2FS4.85

9.412 The submission does not identify the person or persons in the Security Service alleged not to have believed the information in the signal to be accurate; nor does it identify anyone said to have created or forwarded the signal for malign purposes. The suggestions were not put to either David or Julian, the obvious candidates, when they gave evidence to us. We are satisfied that the information was properly received and forwarded by the Security Service. We are also satisfied that, with the possible exception of the information from Observer B, the information contained in this signal was the one piece of specific intelligence received before 30th January that indicated that republican paramilitaries would be likely to shoot at the Army using the crowd as cover.

9.413 It was submitted to us on behalf of some of the families that the security forces had no reason to anticipate IRA violence on the march.1 The signal warned that the marchers might be armed with missiles and that “the source expects that the IRA will use the crowd as cover”. It is not entirely clear whether the source was in fact warning that the IRA would use peaceful marchers as cover or that paramilitaries would shelter behind those “armed with sticks and stones”. There had been no previous instance of paramilitaries using non-violent marchers as cover in order to fire at troops; however, paramilitaries had undoubtedly in the past used rioters as cover. It was virtually inevitable that riots would follow the march on 30th January; and in our view the security forces could reasonably anticipate that paramilitaries would take the opportunity presented by such riots to shoot at troops. The signal, at most, reinforced the existing views of those who read it that paramilitary violence could be expected.

1 FS1.776

The Brigade Operation Order

9.414 Colonel Steele presented the Brigade Operation Order1 for the 30th January 1972 march to the 8th Infantry Brigade staff officers at 0830 hours on 27th January. It was approved by Brigadier MacLellan2 and was sent to General Ford at HQNI.3 The operation was code-named Forecast, a name selected sequentially from an existing list. The parts of the Operation Order of greatest relevance to the Inquiry are as follows:

“1. Background

a. The present declared intention of NICRA is that on 30 January at 1400 hrs a march will proceed from Bishops Field, Creggan, and from Drumleck Drive Shantallow, both to converge on Shipquay Place, where a public meeting will be held in front of the Guildhall.

...

c. The advertised routes of the two marching contingents are as follows:-

(1) From Bishops Field, Creggan. Via Eastway, Westland Street, Rossville Street, William Street, Waterloo Place, Shipquay Place.

(2) From Drumleck Drive, Shantallow. Via Race Course Rd, Buncrana Rd, Pennyburn Pass, Duncreggan Rd (East), Strand Rd, Waterloo Place, Shipquay Place.



e. The strengths of the marches are difficult to estimate, and reports differ wildly.

(1) From Bishop’s Field, Creggan. The estimate ranges from 3000 at the lowest, to between 8000 and 12000 at the highest. Experience of previous NICRA marches both in Derry and elsewhere throughout the Province points to an approx march strength of 5000.



f. We expect a hooligan element to accompany the marches, and anticipate an intensification of the normal level of hooliganism and rioting during and after the march. Almost certainly snipers, petrol bombers and nail bombers will support the rioters.

g. Bombers may intensify their efforts to destroy Business and Shopping premises in the City Centre during the event, while the attention of the Security Forces is directed towards the containment of the march.

2. The Threat. These are currently assessed as:

a. A deliberate attempt to defy the marching ban, resulting in a direct confrontation being made between the marching contingents and the Security Forces.

b. IRA terrorist activity, to take advantage of the event, to conduct shooting attacks against the Security Forces, and bombing attacks against Business, Shopping and Commercial premises in the City Centre.

c. Hooligan reaction to the general excitement of the event, in the form of stone, bottle and nail bombing of troops, arson of private premises and vehicles, and a high degree of violence throughout the City. Although this violence is expected to continue throughout the event, it will intensify during the closing stage of the event, especially in the William St/Rossville St area; it is possible that hooligan violence may continue thereafter for several days.

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MISSION

5. 8 Inf Bde is, on 30 January, to prevent any illegal march taking place from the CREGGAN, and to contain it, together with any accompanying rioting, within the Bogside and Creggan areas of the City. It is also to disperse illegal marchers from other parts of the City, and is to prevent damage by rioters and bombers to Business, Shopping and Protestant areas of Londonderry.

EXECUTION



7. Concept of Operations.

a. Responsibilities.

(1) Creggan March. The containment of the Creggan march will be a Military Operation with the RUC in support. This support will consist mainly of representative officers (at Inspector level) at each blocking position. The Military will be in Command at all levels throughout this Operation.

(2) Other Marches. The dispersal of illegal marches from other parts of the City will be an RUC responsibility, with the Military in support. RUC manpower will be concentrated to meet these threats, at the expense of deployment to the Creggan march…

(3) The Meeting Point, Shipquay Place. The actual Meeting, which is expected to be a moderate affair, will be allowed to take place. The control of the meeting itself will be an RUC responsibility, with the Military only acting at the direct request of the RUC should violence erupt which is beyond the capacity of the Police to control. It is possible that an organised protest sit-down will take place during the meeting, and it will be an RUC responsibility to deal with such a protest.

b. Dispersal of the Marches.

(1) Initially, we intend to deal with any illegal marches in as low a key as possible and for as long as possible. Generally speaking the front men will be moderate and non-violent – the second rank will be those to start any violence that may erupt. The Security Forces are to take no action against the Marches until either:

(a) An attempt is made to breach the blocking points.

(b) Violence against the Security Forces, in the form of stone, bottle and nail bombing, takes place.

(2) Illegal marches are to be halted and dispersed on ground of our own choosing. If possible ringleaders are to be arrested on the spot. Where it is impractical to make such arrests, photographs of ringleaders and participants are to be taken, for identification and arrest at a later stage.

(3) Marches are to be halted at blocking points and are not to be allowed to proceed; there is to be no half measure of allowing participants to trickle through the blocking points and form up again on the other side, as in this way control of the event by the Security Forces will be quickly lost.

(4) If the Creggan march takes place entirely within the containment area of the Bogside and Creggan it will be permitted to continue unchallenged.



e. Hooliganism. Although NICRA claim that this march is a non-violent protest, the organisers will have no control over the hooligans who will ensure that violence is inevitable. The deployment of troops is to take account of this situation. An arrest force is to be held centrally behind the check points, and launched in a scoop-up operation to arrest as many hooligans and rioters as possible.



h. Containment Line. A containment Line is to be held in force around the Bogside and Creggan areas of Londonderry. Blocking positions are to be established as far forward on or beyond the containment line as possible – the object is to take the expected violence at the line into the containment area. The line is not to be breached.

j. Domination of the Area. The Containment Line and the area within it are to be dominated by physical military presence, by OP observation and by sniper posts. The maximum number of soldiers are to be ‘in the shop window’. They are to be covered by deployment of OPs and by a massive deployment of snipers, in the anti-sniper role, who should be deployed at every possible vantage point within our secure areas.



9. Tasks.



f. 1 Para.

(1) Maintain a Brigade Arrest Force, to conduct a ‘scoop-up’ operation of as many hooligans and rioters as possible.

(a) This operation will only be launched, either in whole or in part, on the orders of the Bde Comd.

(b) The Force will be deployed initially to Foyle College Car Park GR 434176, where it will be held at immediate notice throughout the event.

(c) The Scoop-Up operation is likely to be launched on two axis, one directed towards hooligan activity in the area of William St/Little Diamond, and one towards the area of William St/Little James St.

(d) It is expected that the arrest operation will be conducted on foot.



p. Coordinating Instructions.

...

(4) Use of Force.

(a) CS Gas. Is NOT to be used throughout this event, except as a last resort only if troops are about to be over-run and the rioters can no longer be held off with baton rounds and water cannon.

(b) Baton Round. These are to be fired in salvos to disperse illegal marchers and rioters. There should be no less than eight riot guns deployed at each barrier in order that effective salvo fire can be sustained...



(6) PR.

(a) All press statements concerning this event will be made through Bde HQ, to whom all press enquiries should be made.

(b) Unit PROs [Public Relations Officers] should make every effort to collect and conduct press and TV men around deployment areas, in order that the newsmen will subsequently give a balanced report to their readers and viewers on the proceedings.”


1 G95.564-580 3 B1279.033

2 B1279.017

9.415 The task of 1 PARA was, as we have set out above, to form the arrest force and to conduct a “scoop-up” operation of as many hooligans and rioters as possible. Colonel Steele said that “no doubt” the stipulation relating to the arrest operation being launched only on the orders of the Brigade Commander was drafted by Brigadier MacLellan himself.1 Paragraph 9(f) of the Order (quoted above) contains the only references within the Operation Order to the arrest operation.

1 Day 266/66

9.416 The Operation Order provided for barriers to be erected along a containment line, preventing the marchers from leaving the Creggan and Bogside and from reaching the Guildhall Square. Annex D to the Operation Order listed the barriers, giving each one a number.1We consider in more detail the erection of the barriers when we discuss the events of the day itself.

1 B1279.101

The expectation of 8th Infantry Brigade of paramilitary violence and hooligan activity

9.417 There is no reference in the Operation Order to the receipt of any specific intelligence about the plans of either the Provisional or the Official IRA.

9.418 Paragraph 2(b) of the Order, under the heading “The Threat”, identified as one of the threats:

“IRA terrorist activity, to take advantage of the event, to conduct shooting attacks against the Security Forces …”


9.419 Paragraph 2(c) identified another threat, that being of:

“Hooligan reaction to the general excitement of the event, in the form of stone, bottle and nail bombing of troops, arson of private premises and vehicles, and a high degree of violence throughout the City. Although this violence is expected to continue throughout the event, it will intensify during the closing stage of the event, especially in the William St/Rossville St area; it is possible that hooligan violence may continue thereafter for several days.”


9.420 We accept that Brigadier MacLellan and Colonel Steele did genuinely believe that there were threats, both of republican paramilitary activity and of hooliganism, of the type described in the Operation Order. It was submitted on behalf of some of the families1 that the assessment of the RUC, upon whom the Army then relied for much of its intelligence, was that there would be no IRA attack on the soldiers and that the Army’s own assessment was that while there was always a risk, it was unlikely to happen. We consider, as we have already stated, that the risk of republican paramilitaries using rioters as cover from which to fire on the security forces was a real one.

1 FS1.774-805

9.421 It is our view that when drafting the “Threat” section in the Operation Order Colonel Steele was relying on his experience and not on specific intelligence. He drafted it in wide terms, warning of a range of possible types of trouble. In his oral evidence to this Inquiry he said that, “Shooting was the very last thing that was in anybody’s mind” when the officers met the following day at the co-ordinating conference to discuss the Order.1 In its context this observation was made in reply to a suggestion, which Colonel Steele rejected, that the risk of firing was discussed and accepted at the co-ordinating conference. It seems to us that this indicates that in the “Threat” section of the Operation Order, he was referring not to shooting during the march, but to shooting by paramilitaries during the course of any subsequent riots, such disturbances clearly being, in the view of the Army, an inevitable and integral part of the event.

1 Day 266/88

9.422 Our view is strengthened by the evidence that General Ford gave to the Widgery Inquiry on this topic:1

“Q. Was it your anticipation that if a scoop-up operation was launched into the Bogside, at least some of [the 70 gunmen believed by the Army to reside in the Creggan and Bogside] would open fire?

A. I thought it was unlikely that many would because I imagined that the IRA gunmen would be sited to engage our soldiers in the open at the various barricades and that they would open fire at the opportunities which would occur when the hooligans were engaging the troops in the open. This was the tactics of the previous two weeks.



Q: Would this be a fair way of putting your own expectations, that when the scoop-up operation were performing, wherever it was they performed it, they would not come under anything other than perhaps sporadic sniping?

A: That is true, sporadic sniping, yes.”


1 WT10.49

9.423 It appears from this evidence, which we accept, that General Ford was not expecting a serious challenge from paramilitaries during the course of the march, but that he did anticipate that republican paramilitaries would take advantage of hooliganism to open fire. In our view his expectations were reasonable.

9.424 It was submitted by soldiers’ representatives1 that while there may not have been hard intelligence to support the warning of IRA activity in paragraph 2(b) of the Operation Order, paragraph 2(c) reflects information passed on by Chief Superintendent Lagan. This may be so, but we are not sure. Chief Superintendent Lagan, at his meeting with Brigadier MacLellan, did warn of increased violence and said that this might continue for days. However, there is no evidence to suggest that he warned specifically of nail bombing or arson or even that he warned of “hooligan reaction to the general excitement of the event”. He warned the Brigadier that increased violence would follow the blocking of the march.

1 FS7.752-54

Did the terms of the Operation Order make an arrest operation inevitable?

9.425 The Operation Order provided that no action was to be taken against the marchers unless (among other things) violence against the security forces, in the form of the throwing of missiles, took place. Such violence was almost inevitable. All those involved in planning the security forces’ response to the march, including Chief Superintendent Lagan, envisaged that stopping the march would lead to rioting. It follows that an arrest operation was, at the very least, likely to be ordered.

9.426 The assignment of 1 PARA for the task and General Ford’s presence on the day further increased the likelihood of an arrest operation. As outsiders, 1 PARA would not have to live with the consequences of a major operation. General Ford’s presence underlined his commitment to the arrest operation. We formed the view that General Ford, having had the idea of using the occasion of the march as an opportunity to arrest rioters, was keen that the arrest operation be implemented. We gained the overall impression that Brigadier MacLellan was not as enthusiastic as General Ford but, given his orders and the political situation, had no choice but to plan, and in appropriate circumstances launch, some form of arrest operation.

Location and nature of the proposed arrest operation

9.427 Paragraph 9(f)(1)(c) of the Operation Order envisaged that:

“The Scoop Up operation is likely to be launched on two axis, one directed towards hooligan activity in the area of William St/Little Diamond, and one towards the area of William St/Little James St.”


The next provision was that “It is expected that the arrest operation will be conducted on foot”.

9.428 The Operation Order did not stipulate that an arrest operation would take place in one or both of these two areas but simply reflected an expectation that the operation would be directed towards hooligan activity in those areas. No area of operation was laid down nor did the Operation Order set out any boundary or limit of exploitation.
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

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9.429 The two areas identified in the Operation Order are shown on the map below.



9.430 Colonel Steele said in his oral evidence to this Inquiry that these two areas were chosen because they were the ones at which hooligan activity generally took place. He said that, by identifying areas in which the arrest operation was likely to be launched, the order allowed the commanding officer of 1 PARA to make a detailed plan for the scoop-up operation in those areas.1 Colonel Steele also told us in his written evidence to this Inquiry:2

“Planning how the arrest operation would take place was the responsibility of Lieutenant Colonel Wilford, the Commanding Officer of 1 PARA. He was able to make whatever plan he deemed appropriate from the guidance set out in the Operation Order.”


1 Day 266/67 2 B1315.005

9.431 The Operation Order in effect simply offered guidance as to the likely areas for rioting. If rioting had broken out in another area, there was nothing within the order to prevent Brigadier MacLellan (or Colonel Wilford, with permission) from using the scoop-up force to deal with it. In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Steele said that he had expected the arrest force to conduct a swift scoop-up operation and withdraw.1 He rejected the suggestion that, according to the order, the arrest operation was to take place along a line between the two identified areas and not beyond it. He said that he had expected any arrests in the first area to take place around the Little Diamond and any arrests in the second area to take place south of William Street. While he had expected the hooligans in the second area to be in Little James Street and William Street, he said that troops would have had to get behind any hooligans in order to arrest them and so would have had to go south of William Street and into the north end of Rossville Street.2

1 Day 266/67 2 Day 266/69-71

9.432 Colonel Steele’s oral evidence to this Inquiry was that “it was always in [his] mind” that the scoop-up operation would take place in the area of the Eden Place waste ground.1 When interviewed by the Inquiry’s solicitors, he illustrated, by drawing a circle on a map, the area in which he had expected the scoop-up to take place of hooligans from the area of William Street and Little James Street.2

1 Day 267/130 2 B1315.133



9.433 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, he accepted that the reader of the Operation Order would not obtain the impression that there was to be an arrest operation in that area; however, he said that the axes were set out in order to identify the likely location of the hooligans, and he repeated that any scoop-up operation would involve the troops going behind the hooligans.1

1 Day 267/131

9.434 When asked why there was no reference in the Operation Order to the Eden Place waste ground as the place in which arrests were expected to be made, Colonel Steele said:1

“… the details of the arrest operation was very much the province of the commanding officer [Colonel Wilford] and so much depended on where the hooligans were going to be, and I recall that in the order I used the expression, ‘likely axes of approach’, of advance. It could well have been that the hooliganism could have been somewhere else, completely different.

That was why I think we gave the commanding officer of 1 Para quite a difficult task, asking him to make a detailed plan for an arrest operation when he did not actually know exactly where it was to be mounted, because we did not know where the hooliganism was to be.

… we did not go into that detail in the operational order. Whether this was a mistake or not, whether it was right or not to leave those sort of details to the commanding officer, I am not prepared to comment upon.”


1 Day 267/135-136

9.435 In the course of his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Steele was shown the location on the Eden Place waste ground in which the first two Parachute Regiment Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs, often referred to as “Pigs”) stopped after they had entered the Bogside on Bloody Sunday. The location of the vehicles was marked in red and yellow on the map that Colonel Steele had already marked.1

1 B1315.155



9.436 His evidence was that the APC marked in yellow was in exactly the sort of place in which he would have expected it to be, but that the APC marked in red had gone too far south.1 He also thought that the circle that he had drawn was itself too far south and should be moved at least two squares northwards, leaving the yellow APC at the southern limit of the arrest area as he had envisaged it.

1 Day 267/137 2 Day 267/138; Day 267/146

9.437 Later in his evidence, Colonel Steele drew on a new map a blue circle to indicate the area in which he had expected, when he drew up the Operation Order, the arrest to take place of hooligans who had been in the area of William Street and Little James Street. He drew a red circle to indicate the area in which he had expected the arrests of hooligans in the William Street and Little Diamond area:1

1 B1315.156; Day 268/105-108



9.438 Colonel Steele’s evidence was that he, the Brigade Commander and the other staff officers of 8th Infantry Brigade had discussed the draft Operation Order “in the greatest detail, line by line” at their meeting on the morning of 27th January 1972, that paragraph 9(f)(1)(c) had been considered by Brigadier MacLellan and that he had told the Brigadier of the concept that he had formed while drafting the order of the arrest operation.1

1 Day 268/157-159

Distribution of the Operation Order

9.439 Thirty-five copies of the Order for Operation Forecast were made and a copy was sent that day to all those on the distribution list. The list1 included HQNI and provided for the creation of three spare copies. The MoD was not an identified recipient. However, we are satisfied that a copy of the Operation Order was sent to the MoD in London. Brigadier MacLellan is recorded as having said to Desmond Hamill2 that:

“The plans went back to London. So the whole thing was approved before it ever started.”


1 G95.576 2 B1279.003.012

9.440 Brigadier MacLellan also told us that he would have expected the orders to go to the MoD1 and to the staff officers working for General Carver, the CGS.2 General Ford thought it very likely that a copy would have gone to the MoD.3 Colonel Ramsbotham, General Carver’s Military Assistant, said that both he and General Carver knew that there was going to be an arrest operation involving 1 PARA.4

1 Day 261/10 3 Day 255/16

2 Day 264/15 4 Day 254/190

9.441 Lord Balniel, Lord Carrington and Edward Heath said that they did not see, nor would they have expected to see, the Operation Order. They said that the GEN 47 Committee was simply given the outline of the plan that appears in the minutes of the meeting of that committee on 27th January 1972 (to which we refer below). We accept that evidence. Edward Heath thought he probably knew that 1 PARA was going to reinforce 8th Infantry Brigade that weekend but was also fairly sure that he had not heard what particular role was going to be assigned to it.1 There is no evidence that Brian Faulkner saw the order. His letter of 28th January 1972 to General Tuzo included the following:2

“This weekend will undoubtedly be a further test of our resolve and the march in Londonderry will certainly be a most difficult one to handle. I know that detailed plans have been made and I hope everything goes well.”


1 Day 273/2 2 G84A.528.1

9.442 The reference in the letter to the plans does not assist us in determining whether he had seen the plans or had only been told that detailed plans had been made.

The Photographic Coverage Order

9.443 An order for photographic coverage of the march was also issued on 27th January 1972.1 The order provided for there to be ten “still” photographers, seven of whom were to be the normal unit photographers from the Londonderry battalions. The reinforcing battalions – I KOB, 3 RRF and 1 PARA – were each to supply one photographer. In addition, HQNI was to provide a cine camera team.

1 G82A.521.0007-9

9.444 The task of the photographers was stated to be:1

“To provide max photo coverage of the NICRA march and all associated incidents on 30 Jan 72.”
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1 G82A.521.007

9.445 The order provided for the cine camera team to be deployed in a helicopter and all other photographers to be positioned in various locations along the containment line. All photographers were to be in position by 1300 hours on 30th January.

9.446 The order also provided for the films to be processed at 8th Infantry Brigade and at HQNI and for the films to be sent by helicopter to HQNI. The first developed films were to reach HQNI at 1800 hours on 30th January. Captain INQ 1803, the intelligence and security officer based at 8th Infantry Brigade, was responsible for the co-ordination of the plan set out in the order.

9.447 There is evidence that on the day the Army took a large number of still photographs, many of which are missing. We were unable to discover what happened to these photographs.

9.448 The order stated that the films were subsequently to be made available to units for intelligence and PR purposes. It appears from this that the photographs were intended to be of marchers, presumably for later identification, and were also intended to provide evidence of the Army’s handling of the march.

9.449 It was alleged that the non-production of these photographs was part of a “cover up” by the MoD in an effort to exclude evidence detrimental to the Army.1However, this assumes that Army photographs did contain such evidence and there is nothing to support such an assumption. However, the fact that these photographs were not used at the Widgery Inquiry does suggest that none contained anything that assisted the Army’s case. Accordingly, although what happened to the photographs remains a mystery, it seems to us that the most likely explanation is that they were at some stage discarded because they showed nothing of any relevance to the circumstances in which people were shot. This was probably because, in accordance with the order, the photographers were generally deployed along the containment line and did not enter the areas of the Bogside in which the shooting took place.

1 FS1.97-98

The RUC Operation Order

9.450 The 8th Infantry Brigade Operation Order provided that the RUC would be responsible for dealing with any marches other than the Creggan march and would also deal with the planned meeting in Shipquay Place.

9.451 On 27th January 1972 the Assistant Chief Constable (Operations), David Corbett, issued RUC Operation Order 4/72, which set out the numbers of officers who were to be on duty in Londonderry in order to deal with the march on 30th January. A total of 575 officers, brought from 12 police divisions from across Northern Ireland, were to be present.1

1 G80A.506.1-5

9.452 Under the heading “Detention Centre” the order provided that:

“Chief Superintendent ‘N’ Division [Chief Superintendent Lagan] will arrange to have special staff set up to deal with arrested persons and to assist in the preparation of prosecution briefs of evidence if major trouble breaks out but unnecessary arrests are to be avoided.”


9.453 We have found nothing to suggest that the RUC was anticipating having to deal with a large number of prisoners.

9.454 The order also required police photographers to provide still and cine photographic coverage of the march. No police cine film was provided to this Inquiry (or to the Widgery Inquiry). It is not known whether any such film was taken. The police were generally behind the soldiers at the barriers and so any cine film, if taken, was very unlikely to have shown anything of significance. There is nothing to suggest that any adverse inferences should be drawn against the RUC from the absence of any police cine films.

9.455 The order did not set out the tasks that the RUC officers would be required to perform in support of the Army. Some indication of their role is provided in a manuscript note headed “RUC manning 30 Jan 72” which set out the tasks of RUC officers working with members of 1 R ANGLIAN.1 These police officers were required to back up the soldiers at Army barriers along the containment line and on the Craigavon Bridge. Officers of the rank of Inspector were to be available to give public warnings to marchers that the march was illegal and to tell them to disperse. Officers were also required to be ready to deal with clashes between rival Catholic and Protestant factions.

1 G94A.563.1

9.456 Some officers were stationed behind Army barriers to assist in the identification of marchers.1 Others were detailed to take into custody prisoners arrested by the Army.2

1 JF1.1 2 JC20.1

The threat of loyalist action

9.457 The HQNI IntSum dated 27th January 1972 (4/72) recorded, under “Outlook”:1

“The coming week will see the ban on marches challenged on two further occasions in the interest of the anti-internment campaign: in Dungannon on 29 Jan 72, and in Londonderry the following day. The march in Londonderry will present particular problems, and a greater than usual opportunity for demonstrating the difficulties of preventing violations of the ban in Republican areas.”


1 G80.491

9.458 On the same page, the IntSum noted:

“Loyalists in Londonderry have threatened in a public statement to interfere with the NICRA march in the City on 30 Jan 72. The statement went on to say that a Loyalist parade would be held later if the NICRA march was allowed to proceed.”


9.459 Annex A to the IntSum, which is headed “Forecast of Events”, also contains a reference to the 30th January march:

“Londonderry. NICRA sponsored anti-internment march from the Creggan and Shantallow to Guildhall Square at 1430 hours, followed by a meeting. No opposition anticipated.”


9.460 On 25th January 1972 the City of Londonderry and Foyle Democratic Unionist Association (DUA) had announced that its members had resolved to stop the march themselves if the Government did not do so.1 This threat remained on 27th January but it appears, both from the reference to “No opposition” in the HQNI IntSum and the dismissive reference to the DUA threat in the 8th Infantry Brigade IntSum of 25th January2 that the security forces were not seriously concerned about any loyalist activity.

1 L15 2G80.494; G72.445

9.461 During the week, unionists announced their intention to hold a religious meeting in the Guildhall Square on the afternoon of 30th January 1972 and informed the Chief Constable that that was what they intended to do.1 It was not until 29th January that the Reverend James McClelland of the City of Londonderry and Foyle DUA announced that this rally had been cancelled.2 We consider this matter in more detail below.

1 G108.664 2 L21

The meeting of the GEN 47 Committee on 27th January 1972

9.462 On 27th January 1972 the GEN 47 Committee met at 10 Downing Street at its usual time of 10.30am, an hour before the regular United Kingdom Cabinet meeting.1During the hour-long meeting the committee dealt not only with the security situation, but also the proposed inter-party talks and the political situation.

1 G78.485.1

9.463 The brief prepared for the Prime Minister by the Cabinet Secretary Sir Burke Trend (with the assistance of Arthur Hockaday) dealt primarily with the question of inter-party talks and the political situation.1Under the title “The Security Situation” Sir Burke merely noted that the Prime Minister would wish to invite reports from the CGS and others as appropriate.2

1 G75CA.462.5.1-4 2 G75CA.462.5.3

9.464 The brief reviewed the three different proposals for advancing a political initiative that were currently under consideration: the inter-party talks at Westminster that were intended to expand later to include the Northern Ireland parties; Jack Lynch’s proposals, as outlined to Edward Heath in Brussels, and to Sir Burke Trend and Sir Stewart Crawford on the previous day; and the Home Secretary’s memorandum, which had been discussed at the previous GEN 47 meeting. The authors of the brief were not optimistic about the prospects of the Westminster inter-party talks, and suggested that the Government might wish to keep these separate from any initiative that it might choose to launch.1 The form that this might take was examined in relation to the proposals of both Jack Lynch and Reginald Maudling. The brief drew attention to the similarity between the “essence” of the Home Secretary’s favoured proposal, “the concept of statutorily guaranteed minority participation in Government at Stormont”, and the Taoiseach’s desire for “Community Government”.2 In light of this, the authors wrote: “If the Government judge that the moment for some conciliatory move has come and that the points of resemblance between Mr. Lynch’s initiative and the Home Secretary’s plan are sufficient to enable them to launch the latter under cover of, or in response to, the former, some careful co-ordination will be required, not excluding Mr. Faulkner.”3 They emphasised the need for urgency, especially if the Government were to influence the public presentation of Jack Lynch’s plan.4

1 G75CA.462.5.1

2 G75CA.462.5.2
3 G75CA.462.5.2

4 G75CA.462.5.2-3


9.465 This brief also considered other aspects of the proposals suggested by Reginald Maudling and Jack Lynch. The authors noted that although the Home Secretary had concentrated during the previous meeting of GEN 47 on a period of government by commission, this was a means towards a solution, and not a solution in itself.1 The other two suggestions put forward (but not favoured) in Reginald Maudling’s paper – continuing with present policy and seeking other leaders in the minority community with whom to negotiate – were described as unsatisfactory and unrealistic respectively, although neither was definitively ruled out.2 The brief mentioned the possible defection to the Alliance Party of a number of Ulster Unionists; while this was considered to be potentially significant (especially if it presaged further defections from other parties), the authors commented that it would be “improvident simply to wait and see what happens”.3 In relation to Jack Lynch’s proposals, it was noted that he was only just beginning to realise the desirability of co-ordinating his approach with London and with Brian Faulkner.4 The Prime Minister was also invited in the brief to ask Reginald Maudling whether he could contemplate the “change of direction” on internment that Jack Lynch felt might be necessary to win the support of the SDLP and nationalists.5 Finally, the authors turned to the prospect of direct rule, which was described as “closely connected” with the Home Secretary’s proposals, in the sense that it might be necessary for London to impose this if agreement could not be reached within Northern Ireland.6 In this case, the brief asked, would Reginald Maudling’s scheme be the preferred outcome, or “would we go for something even more radical”?; What the “something” might have been was not explained.7

1 G75CA.462.5.2

2 G75CA.462.5.3

3 G75CA.462.5.3

4 G75CA.462.5.3
5 G75CA.462.5.2

6 G75CA.462.5.3

7 G75CA.462.5.3


9.466 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Edward Heath stated that he was not convinced that the timescale relating to the proposals for a political initiative was practical. He pointed out the difference in approach to this question between politicians and officials, and stated specifically that he did not think that it would be possible to get the relevant parties to acquiesce in any such initiative within the first few weeks of February 1972.1

1 Day 291/26-30

9.467 Under the Heading “Marches and Demonstrations” the brief’s authors suggested that:1

“12. You may wish to question the Secretary of State for Defence about recent suggestions in the Press and on television that the Army over-reacted against some of the Civil Rights demonstrations last weekend and that, in particular, soldiers of the Parachute Regiment, by being unnecessarily rough, have gratuitously provoked resentment among peaceful elements of the Roman Catholic population.

13. Overshadowing this question, however, is the graver issue of the attitude to be adopted by the security forces if the renewed ban on marches is openly defied. Are we able – and prepared – to deal with that situation? Perhaps the question should be explored urgently with Mr. Faulkner during his visit to London.”


1 G75CA.462.5.4

9.468 It appears from the minutes of the GEN 47 meeting, which are set out below, and from the evidence of the relevant witnesses to this Inquiry that the Prime Minister did not raise the issue of the handling of the Magilligan march with Lord Carrington.1Edward Heath said in his oral evidence to this Inquiry that he did not think that it had been necessary to do so,2adding that he considered Lord Carrington to be “an admirable Minister of Defence”.3He vigorously rejected the suggestion that he failed to ask about this issue because it did not matter to him whether Catholics had been maltreated in the course of an illegal march.4

1 Day 294/56; KH4.89; Day 282/127-128

2 Day 282/132
3 Day 291/31

4 Day 291/31


9.469 It was suggested to this Inquiry by some of the families that Sir Burke Trend and Arthur Hockaday were “in relation to Bloody Sunday the chief advisers to the Prime Minister”.1 As is apparent (for example from this brief itself) this was not the case. We accept the submissions of the legal representatives of some of the politicians2 that the role of the Secretary to the Cabinet and his Cabinet Office colleagues in relation to the Prime Minister and in relation to matters which were to be discussed in Cabinet (or in Cabinet committees of which the Prime Minister was Chairman) was not to advise him, still less to be his chief adviser, on the decisions that should be taken in relation to such matters as how to deal with the proposed march. The range of policy issues discussed at this level was very wide indeed and the suggestion that these civil servants would or could advise the Prime Minister on an individual security operation is unsustainable. Their role was to provide a steering brief to assist the Prime Minister to guide the discussion, and to facilitate the task of establishing, if possible, a consensus at the conclusion of the discussion. The chief adviser and provider of information on security matters to the Prime Minister was the CGS. In this connection, it can be seen from the GEN 47 minutes of the period that the CGS was not in the habit of discussing particular security operations in any detail in this committee.

1 FS4.102 2FR25.4

9.470 Kelvin White, head of the Republic of Ireland Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, prepared the brief for the Foreign Secretary before the GEN 47 meeting on 27th January 1972. This brief dealt primarily with the Home Secretary’s proposals for a political initiative.1 Kelvin White attached a copy of the brief for the previous meeting on 20th January, in which Reginald Maudling’s memorandum of 18th January2 had been described as “arguably the most important paper on Ireland to emerge since the crisis began”.3 Although some potential alterations were suggested, Kelvin White wrote that the initiative offered a chance to break the existing deadlock, and that the memorandum could be endorsed.4 In a handwritten comment at the end of the brief, the Permanent Secretary, Sir Stewart Crawford, added his opinion that the proposal was “a big step forward” and that he hoped that the Foreign Secretary would give it strong support.5 He also noted that such a plan was unlikely to be accepted through the agreement of relevant parties, and hence an interlude of direct rule would probably be necessary.6

1 KW3.74-79

2 G59c.363.8

3 KW3.78
4 KW3.79

5 KW3.79

6 KW3.79
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

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9.471 Kelvin White wrote in the brief for the following week’s meeting that these arguments still stood.1 Since the first discussion of Reginald Maudling’s memorandum by the GEN 47 Committee the most significant development had been the discussions (described above) that had taken place between Edward Heath and Jack Lynch, and the follow-up meeting between the latter and Sir Burke Trend and Sir Stewart Crawford. Kelvin White commented that although the Taoiseach’s thinking on the issue was “still very ill-defined”,2 he was moving along similar lines to those then under consideration by United Kingdom ministers. If the Cabinet were to take a decision to launch an initiative thought would have to be given as to how to ensure that it was not pre-empted, potentially disastrously, by Jack Lynch.3 To this end, ministers would need to decide at an early stage how much he could be told of the United Kingdom Government’s plans.4

1 KW3.76

2 KW3.76
3 KW3.77

4 KW3.77


9.472 The minutes of this GEN 47 Committee meeting (the last before Bloody Sunday) are set out in full, since in our view they show the great attention that was being paid by the United Kingdom Government to the seeking of a political solution to the problems of Northern Ireland:1 The minutes shown below are a copy of the minutes in their original typed form.

1 G78.485.001; G79.487.003













9.473 In addition to these minutes (prepared from manuscript notes taken by Arthur Hockaday)1 there have survived Sir Burke Trend’s handwritten notes of the meeting.2 They reflect what is in the minutes, with the addition of details regarding the discussion on dealing with the handling of the march:3

“CGS [Chief of the General Staff, Sir Michael Carver]:

… IRA will seek max. publicity; and this may provoke Prot. counter reaction.

S/SD [Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Carrington]

This is a police, rather than an Army, job. Some incidents between Army and marchers are inevitable.

P.M. [Prime Minister, Edward Heath]

Must support Faulkner’s decision to ban marches as much as we can. Approve CGS’s dispositions; and get publicity directed so far as possible to way in which NICRA being taken over by IRA & hooligans.”

1 KH9.87

2 G79A.487.4-6
3 G79A.487.4


9.474 It will have been noted that General Carver informed the meeting that there were to be two marches during the coming weekend, one on the Saturday from Dungannon to Coalisland (requiring seven companies of troops) and the Londonderry march, requiring 20 companies. The reference to obtaining maximum publicity for arrests and court proceedings related to both marches.

9.475 It was suggested to the Inquiry that the Londonderry arrest operation against hooligan rioters then being planned by the Army was raised and approved at this meeting, and that the meeting was made aware of the likelihood of a shooting war with paramilitary republicans and the consequent risk to life from gunfire.1

1 FS4.72-73; FS4.82

9.476 Neither the minutes nor Sir Burke Trend’s handwritten notes (nor indeed the briefs to ministers or Anthony Stephens’ current situation report) contained any mention of any plan to use the occasion of the Londonderry march to launch a large-scale or indeed any specific arrest operation against rioters using either 1 PARA or other troops. These documents did not include any information or intelligence on the possibility or likelihood of a gunfight between paramilitary republicans and the Army, or of a consequent or any risk of loss of life. On the contrary, in his summing up the Prime Minister described the problem as one of dealing with “comparatively peaceful” marches. Thus the contemporary documents recording the meeting provide no support for the suggestion that the reference to “incidents of confrontation between the Army and the civilian population” being “inevitable” was a reference to what would or might happen in the course of the planned arrest operation. In this connection it is to be borne in mind that there had been incidents between the Army and marchers at the marches that had already taken place.

9.477 The minutes do record that the meeting approved the CGS’s “dispositions”. However, unless the assumption is first made that the arrest plan was discussed, ie unless the question at issue is begged, this must (in the context of the minutes as a whole) be a reference to the disposition of military forces for the two marches mentioned earlier in the minutes. Again, unless the assumption is made that the arrest plan was discussed, the reference to maximum publicity for arrests and following court proceedings is, on the face of it, concerned with the need to counter the impression that the security forces were not enforcing the ban; and reflects the anxiety expressed by Edward Heath earlier in the month that for that reason steps should be taken to prosecute without delay those breaking the law.

9.478 The Inquiry has received the oral and written evidence of Edward Heath1and Lord Carrington,2the written evidence of Lord Balniel (the Minister of State for Defence),3the written and oral evidence of Arthur Hockaday,4the written statement of General Carver5and the written and oral evidence of Robert Armstrong,6who seems to have been present at this GEN 47 meeting as he was the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister.

1 KH4.1; Day 282/78; Day 283/56; Day 285/95; Day 286/105; Day 287/69; Day 289/94; Day 290/79; Day 291/1

2 KC6.1; Day 280/1

3 KC10.1
4 KH9.1; Day 271/1

5 KC8.1

6 KA5.1; Day 294/1


9.479 There is nothing in this evidence to support the suggestion that the proposed arrest operation was raised or discussed at the GEN 47 meeting, or that there was mention of a gun battle with paramilitary republicans with consequent or any risk to life. On the contrary, the evidence of Edward Heath and Lord Carrington was that no arrest operation for the Londonderry march was discussed, and nor was the possibility or likelihood of a gun battle or consequent or any risk to life.1They also stated that to their recollection and belief the minutes were an accurate record of the discussion at the meeting.2

1 KH4.6; Day 282/136-140; Day 283/56-57; Day 283/60-62; Day 280/52-60
2 KH4.6; Day 280/52


9.480 Lord Carrington was aware, albeit in general terms, that there was to be an attempt to arrest a fair number of rioters.1However, it does not follow from this that he must or should have appreciated that the operation would endanger life. Any suggestion that it does once again assumes that what occurred was what was planned.

1 G74.457-8; Day 280/49

9.481 Robert Armstrong told this Inquiry that the impression he got from the meeting was that there was going to be a comparatively peaceful march.1Arthur Hockaday (who wrote the first draft of the minutes)2said he had no clear recollection of the meeting, but would have recorded any mention or discussion of a large-scale arrest operation in Londonderry that might run the risk of loss of life had such a discussion occurred.

1 Day 294/8 2 KH9.87

9.482 Having considered all the evidence on this point we are satisfied that the proposed arrest operation was not discussed at the GEN 47 Committee meeting. It was obliquely suggested that the minutes may have been so drafted as to omit or play down mention of the operation,1but the suggestion was made with nothing whatever to support it. We consider that the minutes accurately summarised what was said at the meeting.

1 FS4.72-76

9.483 The suggestion that the proposed arrest operation was discussed at the GEN 47 Committee meeting on 27th January 1972 was the foundation for a further and much more serious allegation, which was that the members of this committee either appreciated that this would endanger the lives of marchers or, at the least, simply did not care whether or not this risk would arise, since they considered “the marchers to be law-breakers, allies of the IRA, whose lives could properly be jeopardised in order to achieve a greater good, namely to demonstrate to the NI Government and its supporters that the ban on marching was being enforced with zeal”.1 The committee, it was argued, approved the arrest plan for “what they perceived to be a greater good, namely the strict enforcement of the law and the need to avoid Protestant ill-feeling”.2

1 FS4.87 2 FS4.73; FS4.72-87

9.484 These suggestions amount to allegations that the members of GEN 47 were prepared to risk lives for the sake of political expediency. The allegations were put to and denied by Edward Heath,1Lord Carrington,2Arthur Hockaday3and Kelvin White.4

1 Day 291/46-48

2 Day 280/153-154
3 Day 271/95-98

4 Day 269/194-195


9.485 Apart from the fact that the foundation for these allegations (approval of an arrest operation) is not established, the allegations are inconsistent with the fact that over the preceding months (and indeed at the very meeting under consideration) a great deal of thought had been (and was being) given to trying to formulate some political initiative to give the minority community a significant say in the government of Northern Ireland. The view, expressed on many occasions, was that an opportunity might arise in the near future when such an initiative could succeed; February was regularly mentioned as a possible target date, although Edward Heath told this Inquiry that he considered that to have been overly ambitious.1It was for that reason that it had been agreed at the GEN 47 meeting on 11th January 1972 to defer any plan to re-occupy the no-go areas of Londonderry (which was seen as likely to lead to serious violence), since this would further alienate the nationalist population and jeopardise any political initiative.2It would accordingly have been entirely contrary to the way forward being discussed by the GEN 47 Committee at the time, for its members to have sanctioned any operation that risked the lives of marchers, or even simply to have proceeded on the basis of not caring whether or not the lives of marchers were put at risk.

1 Day 291/27 2 G50.309

9.486 There is no doubt that Edward Heath (as he accepted) was of the view that the ban on marches should be enforced; and that the marchers were lawbreakers who should be prosecuted. There is no doubt that he and Lord Carrington were only too aware that there was a possibility that republican paramilitaries might at any time use deadly violence against the security forces, as indeed they had been doing for months; and that the soldiers had been and continued to be engaged in fighting these paramilitaries.1But these matters lend no support at all to the allegation that the GEN 47 Committee (and thus the United Kingdom Government) deliberately or recklessly put the lives of marchers at risk by approving an arrest operation (or an operation against republican paramilitaries) that might have this result.

1 KH4.6; Day 280/61-62

9.487 For these reasons we are satisfied that there is no basis for these allegations.

The meeting of the Joint Security Committee on 27th January 1972

9.488 On the same day and at the same time (10.30am) as the GEN 47 meeting, the Joint Security Committee met at Stormont. The meeting was chaired by John Taylor MP (the Minister of State at the Ministry of Home Affairs), since, as we mention below, Brian Faulkner was on his way to London. The Secretary to the Committee at this time was Thomas Cromey, but his evidence was that he had no recollection of any relevant discussions that took place in the Committee over the period under consideration.1

1 KC13.1

9.489 According to the minutes of this meeting,1 after a discussion of the incidents of the previous week and the rejection of a suggestion that the ban on marches should be extended to Magilligan Strand (which was not covered as it was a beach and not a public road), those present turned to forthcoming events. The minutes record the following:2

“Proposed Marches on Saturday (Dungannon to Coalisland) and Sunday (in Londonderry) posed considerable problems. Tactics will be as for last week-end. The Marches will be stopped at points selected on tactical grounds.

It was agreed that S[pecial] P[owers] A[ct] Regulation 38 should be used to prevent assembly in Dungannon Square. The Londonderry Marches presented more serious difficulties and security action will be primarily an Army operation. It is planned to stifle the Shantallow March at source but it would be pointless to attempt the same tactics in the Creggan area. The basic plan here will be to block all routes into William Street and stop the March there. The operation might well develop into rioting and even a shooting war. Depending on the amount of road transport into Londonderry for the occasion road blocks may be set up and vehicles searched. This would have useful delaying effect.

Prosecution for breaches of the ban on processions was disappointingly slow. The Minister of State at the Ministry of Home Affairs undertook to look into this.”


1 G.76.463-466 2 G76.465

9.490 It will be seen from the minutes that at this stage the JSC was contemplating two marches in Londonderry, one originating in the Shantallow area of the city, and the other in the Creggan.

9.491 Representatives of some of the families suggested to this Inquiry that the JSC was told that there was a planned Army operation to arrest hooligans on the occasion of the Londonderry march and that the mention of a shooting war was a reference to what might happen when the arrest operation was launched. The members of the committee, it was submitted, would have been particularly interested to know of this plan, and it was inherently likely that they were told of it. It was further submitted that the lack of an official record of any discussion on this point was a result of it being “thought wiser not to minute any detail of the plan”.1

1 FS4.70

9.492 The only direct support for the first part of this suggestion is the fact that in the House of Commons on 1st February 1972 Lord Balniel, the Minister of State for Defence with responsibility for all functions of the MoD, including the three Armed Services, said (according to the daily version of Hansard1) that: “The arrest operation was discussed by the Joint Security Council. Further decisions had been taken by Ministers here.” The bound version of Hansard2recorded him as saying “The arrest operation was discussed by the Joint Security Council after decisions had been taken by Ministers here.” Lord Balniel’s explanation for the change was that the first version made no sense and that his office may have asked for it to be corrected.3Assuming that the later version is an accurate record of what Lord Balniel had said, it remains unclear to what decisions the Minister was referring or when and by whom such decisions had been made. In view of the fact that the JSC meeting was taking place at the same time as the GEN 47 meeting, this could not have been a reference to the latter. Lord Balniel (who later became Lord Crawford) was too unwell to give oral evidence to this Inquiry.

1 V27 3 KC10.16

2 V55.4

9.493 It may be that the arrest operation was discussed at this JSC meeting, though since the committee does not seem in the preceding months to have looked in any detail at the plans of the security forces, any such discussion would be likely to have been in very general terms. However, even assuming that this did happen, there is nothing at all to suggest that the possibility of a shooting war was in the discussion related to any arrest operation, as opposed to what might happen when the march was stopped at William Street. The further suggestion that the minutes of this meeting were so drafted as deliberately to exclude any mention of an arrest operation was not supported by any evidence at all and is an allegation that we reject.

9.494 Edward Heath,1 Lord Carrington2 and Robert Armstrong3 all gave evidence that they did not see the minutes of the JSC meeting and that they were not made aware of the possibility of a shooting war. There is nothing in the GEN 47 minutes or elsewhere in the material considered by the Inquiry to suggest that this evidence of these individuals should be rejected and in our view it accurately reflected the position.

1 KH4.91; Day 283/61 3 Day 294/41-42

2 Day 280/63; Day 280/126-127

9.495 Arthur Hockaday told this Inquiry that when he was Assistant Under Secretary (General Staff) (AUS (GS)) in the MoD he had routinely received the minutes of JSC meetings, and he accepted that after his move to the Cabinet Office in early January 1972 he might well have continued to see these records.1 However, even assuming that to be so, it is most unlikely that this would have happened before the weekend of 29th and 30th January 1972, since there is evidence to show that such minutes did not get to London for some days after the meeting in question.2 Arthur Hockaday’s evidence, which we accept, was that he would in any event have read the reference to “a shooting war” as being no more than a statement of the obvious and that it would certainly not have implied to him that the shooting would be deliberately initiated by the Army in the course of an arrest operation.3

1 Day 271/79; KH 9.94 3 KH9.87

2 FS8.794; FS8.814-815

9.496 It should also be noted that the JSC did not have a Special Branch Assessment for their meeting on 27th January 1972, since these assessments were produced fortnightly and the last had been supplied for the meeting on 20th January. Thus the submission that there must have been a Special Branch Assessment for the meeting on 27th January and that this probably informed the JSC that “nothing more than public disorder was expected and perhaps even that there was an understanding that both the Provisional IRA and the Official IRA were unlikely to engage in any hostile action” has no foundation in fact.1

1 FS1.136

9.497 In the early evening of 27th January 1972 Donald Maitland (Edward Heath’s Chief Press Secretary) sent a message to Clifford Hill (the United Kingdom Government’s Press Liaison Officer in Northern Ireland), which was telegraphed to the Government Security Adviser William Stout. Donald Maitland told this Inquiry that he could not recall this telegram, which he might not have drafted himself.1 This was in the following terms:2

“Following for Hill from Maitland.

This morning Ministers discussed the public relations aspects of the coming weekend’s marches and particularly Sunday’s in Londonderry. They accepted that there would be T.V. coverage of marchers forming up in the Creggan and Bogside. They felt this might best be counter-acted by T.V. coverage at the point where the march is broken up and of the arrest and subsequent proceedings in Court against any hooligan elements who may be arrested.

2. In the light of today’s discussion by the J.S.C. would you please do all you can to ensure balanced coverage of Sunday’s march.”


1 KH11.10 2 G91.551

9.498 This telegram reflected the view of the GEN 47 Committee that there should be maximum publicity for arrests and court proceedings following the marches.1The language used is a further indication that there was no discussion of a large-scale arrest operation at the GEN 47 meeting. If such an operation had been mentioned and planned for it would be reasonable to expect that the equivocal terminology contained in this telegram (“any hooligan elements … who may be arrested”) would have been replaced with something more definite (perhaps “the marchers and rioters … who will be arrested”). It is also significant that the telegram reveals that ministers hoped that television cameras would be present at the point where the security forces would stop the marchers; this is hardly consistent with the same ministers proceeding in the knowledge that this encounter was likely to lead to the deaths of innocent civilians.

1 KM11.10

The meeting between Edward Heath and Brian Faulkner on 27th January 1972

9.499 Edward Heath met Brian Faulkner at 10 Downing Street at 5.45pm on 27th January 1972. This meeting came about because Brian Faulkner was coming to London on that day to address a lunch of the Association of Engineers, before meeting Unionist MPs and giving a dinner for the eminent economist and government adviser Sir Alec Cairncross, who had participated in an inquiry into the economic and social position and prospects for Northern Ireland. Edward Heath had asked to be kept informed when Brian Faulkner was coming to London, and on being told of this proposed visit, suggested on 20th January that the two should meet informally to exchange views.1
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1 G58AB.360.4-5; OS4.170; G63A.379.1; G70D.441.12; G74F.458.16

9.500 Robert Armstrong made what was called a “Note for the Record” of this meeting. We accept his evidence and that of Arthur Hockaday, that the fact that the document was so named does not indicate that there was some other note that was not for the record.1The note was as follows:2

“Mr. Brian Faulkner, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, came to see the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary at 10 Downing Street on Thursday 27 January 1972 at 5.45 p.m.

Turning first to the security situation in Northern Ireland, Mr. Faulkner said that General Tuzo was still optimistic that the security situation in Belfast would be under control by the end of February or early March. This optimism certainly seemed to be supported by the information which was coming in. The G.O.C expected that from now on there would be a good deal more I.R.A. activity on the border. He had plans for switching some of his effort to the border. Mr. Faulkner was content to leave the G.O.C to decide how to deploy his forces, and thought that there was no need to alter the existing priorities: first Belfast; then the border; and finally Londonderry.

If the G.O.C proved to be right, within a few weeks the situation might be ripe for some political development. Mr. Faulkner did not take the view that the Catholic community was irretrievably estranged as a result of internment ... It was notable that, as the security forces got on top of the I.R.A., it, had become possible to carry out searches without causing riots, and members of the Catholic community had begun to give information to the security forces. If the I.R.A were seen to be licked in Belfast, and it became possible to hold out the prospect of a reduction in the number of internees, and thus of an eventual end to internment, it might be possible to begin political talks. He did not know if Stormont Opposition M.Ps would be willing to talk, though Mr. Lynch had recently suggested in Dublin that the SDLP might be willing to start talking before internment ended.

The Prime Minister said that his impression from Mr. Lynch was that he thought that, although the SDLP ought to talk, they would not do so. Some of them were terrified for their lives; others were frightened of losing such support as they still retained.

He himself did not believe that Mr. [Gerry] Fitt [then the leader of the SDLP, who was widely thought to have been hesitant about the boycott of Stormont] retained any real control of the Party.

Mr. Faulkner said that he did not believe that the SDLP’s attitude had the support of the Catholic community, which would (in his view) be in favour of the resumption of talks. He would be in favour of going ahead with a political initiative, as soon as it was possible to be reasonably sure that it would not be overridden by events. The Northern Ireland Government had produced their Green Paper and other proposals for reforms. He wondered what the thinking of the British Government was.

The Prime Minister said that it might perhaps be useful for himself, the Home Secretary and Mr. Faulkner to have a general talk about political possibilities at a later date. It might be possible to contemplate a package made up of the defeat of the I.R.A in Belfast, the prospect of declining internment, and talks about constitutional change.

Mr. Faulkner said that the main question was what the constitutional change should be.

The Home Secretary suggested that it would be easier to get a solution which might last if it could be firmly established that there would be no change in the border for a generation.

Mr. Faulkner agreed that at present neither side was excluding the possibility of a relatively early change in the border, and this was affecting their readiness to envisage talks about changes within the present basic constitutional framework of Northern Ireland as a province of the United Kingdom. His own people would be much more interested in discussing possible minority involvement in Government if they were satisfied that there was no prospect of an early change in the border.

The Home Secretary suggested that one possibility might be a general agreement that there should be no change for a period of twenty years, and that a referendum should be held at the end of that period.

Mr. Faulkner thought that this would be fair enough, and much better than an early referendum, coupled with a commitment for further referenda every ten years; any arrangement of that kind would tend to keep the border at the forefront of Northern Ireland politics. But any proposal for a referendum was open to the risk that, as the referendum drew closer, intimidation would be resumed.

The Prime Minister described the three meetings which the Home Secretary and he had had with the Leader of the Opposition. As a result of the first and second meetings (much of which had been leaked to the press), the Opposition had proposed to proceed straight to inter-party talks with Stormont. Their failure to persuade the SDLP to co-operate had led them at the third meeting to revert to the original suggestion that the first step should be inter-party talks at Westminster. They wanted to include backbenchers in those talks, but it was the view of the Government that talks should be on a Privy Counsellor basis between the two Front Benches. If backbenchers were to be included, considerable complications would ensue, among them demands by the Ulster Unionists at Westminster to be represented as a separate party.

Mr. Faulkner said that the situation in his own party was not bad at all. Opinion was tending to crystallise round the centre. Mr. Phelim O’Neill [a moderate, and individualistic, Unionist MP who defected to and led the Alliance Parliamentary Party shortly afterwards] did a certain amount of muttering, but had no support; Mr. [William] Craig was in the wilderness; and Mr. Paisley had lost a lot of support, as a result of his opposition to internment and his tendency always to leap in.

Mr. Faulkner recognised that the civil disobedience parades in the coming weekend in Derry would be difficult; but there had been no alternative to refusing permission for them. If Orange parades were to be banned, it would be impossible in political terms to let civil rights or other parades go ahead. He assumed (and it was confirmed) that the British Government remained of the view that parades and marches should be banned for as long as internment lasted. It would be important to make clear that those parading were not genuine ‘civil righters’ but were ‘civil disobedients’. It would also be important to ensure that television cameras saw the parades being stopped.

Mr. Faulkner said that the I.R.A. campaign was going through a very dirty phase at present, with attacks on policemen. He referred to the eight men who had recently been taken into custody by the Republican police, but had subsequently been released, although they were apparently carrying guns.

Reverting to the situation of internment and the possibility of reducing it, Mr. Faulkner said that of 700 interned or detained, 240 were officers of the provisional I.R.A and 90 were officers of the official I.R.A. He thought that there were probably about 200 ‘volunteers’ in detention who could be among the first to be considered for release. There were probably about 200 wanted men on the run in the Republic. It was not

generally appreciated that since internment, about 200 men had been arrested on arms and explosive charges and had been convicted. This showed that the authorities were not relying only upon internment.

The Prime Minister thanked Mr. Faulkner for coming and said that he would look forward to a general discussion with him later about possible political moves.

27 January 1972”


1 Day 294/4; KH9.88 2G81.507-511

9.501 There is no reason to suppose that this note is anything other than a full and accurate record of the meeting. The Tribunal accepts the evidence of Edward Heath1 and Robert Armstrong2 that this was indeed the case, and that no significant matters concerning the march were discussed which were not included in the note. There is nothing in the text that supports the suggestion that either Prime Minister regarded the forthcoming marches as raising any particular serious political problems. Dr Robert Ramsay, the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland who accompanied him to the meeting, told this Inquiry that Brian Faulkner did not regard the handling of the march in Londonderry as some sort of test of resolve of the security forces or the Government.3We accept this evidence.

1 Day 283/67 3 Day 215/39

2 Day 294/88

9.502 Edward Heath and Robert Armstrong both told this Inquiry that they had no memory of further discussions about the march, or how to deal with it, until after the events of Bloody Sunday.1 Edward Heath also stated that he did not have any contact with Brian Faulkner until the evening of 30th January 1972.2 This Inquiry has no documentary material to the contrary, and we are satisfied that their recollections were correct on these points.

1 KH4.92; Day 294/9 2 Day 283/67

Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s paper on marches

9.503 Colonel Dalzell-Payne was at the time responsible for MO4, the military division at the MoD concerned with Northern Ireland. On 27th January he distributed a paper addressed to the Director of Military Operations at the MoD entitled “Northern Ireland – Marches in 1972”.1

1 G82.512-521

9.504 Colonel Dalzell-Payne explained to this Inquiry1 that he prepared this paper in order to expand upon Anthony Stephens’ submission of the previous day (discussed above), which had outlined the thinking of the MoD, GOC and United Kingdom Representative in Northern Ireland on the proposed handling of the Londonderry march and any resulting arrests.2 Colonel Dalzell-Payne felt that a summary paper on marches in Northern Ireland was necessary as no such document existed, the staff in the MoD regularly rotated, and the ban on marches had only recently been extended.3The covering loose minute shows that the note was distributed to senior officials and military personnel in the MoD and explained that it had been prepared “as background to the current situation, and to try to anticipate some of the problems we may face on Monday 31 Jan 1972, if events on Sunday prove our worst fears. Shortage of time has not allowed its clearance with Headquarters Northern Ireland.”4

1 CD1.2; Day 245/14-15

2 G74.457-458
3 Day 245/14-15

4 G82.512


9.505 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Dalzell-Payne said that “the worst fears” to which he referred were two-fold. In general there was the major concern of a serious sectarian confrontation between the two communities, and in relation to 30th January 1972 there was the more specific worry that the march might get out of control, leading to rioting and destruction.1 However, in view of the contents of this paper (considered below) and of the earlier submission prepared by Anthony Stephens it seems more likely that the reference was simply to a unionist backlash if the marchers were perceived to have successfully defied the ban with the consequent implications for enforcing the ban in the future.

1 Day 245/16

9.506 The paper itself set out a brief account of marches by both communities in Northern Ireland, and detailed the use of Banning Orders made by the Stormont Government, including the recently announced renewal of the ban on processions for a further 12 months. Colonel Dalzell-Payne observed that “there is no doubt that the Force Levels to control urban situations of the sort created by illegal marches are prohibitively high” and that “it could well be claimed that the activities of IRA gunmen/bombers are easier to control than mass civil disobedience of the sort involved in defiance of the ban on marches”.1 He noted the widespread hostility among the unionist community to the extension of the ban on marches, and set out the response of the unionist Orange Order, which had warned that the Government could not expect support for the ban unless it was demonstrated to be effective (something that Colonel Dalzell-Payne took to refer to the anti-internment marches that had taken place earlier in the month).2

1 G82.516 2 G82.517-518

9.507 The paper continued:1

“13. It is not possible to enforce the ban rigidly with the force levels available and we can only hope to deal with two or three large-scale demonstrations at any one time. In order to deal with them effectively however, we must take stronger military measures which will inevitably lead to further accusations of ‘brutality and ill-treatment of non-violent demonstrators.’ These measures should be reinforced by a quicker legal process in dealing with those who defy the ban. The IRA propaganda machine will, of course, make maximum capital from any efforts we may make to enforce the ban. The instructions issued to the Police and the Army immediately after the extension of the ban was announced are at Annex B.

Recommendations

14. We must accept that the current force level cannot be appreciably increased merely to impose a ban on marches. If we accept that the ban must continue, we are left with two possible courses of action, besides speeding up legal proceedings:

a. An extension of the ban to include all public meetings.

b. Additional measures for the physical control of crowds which threaten to march.

15. The only additional measure left for physical control is the use of firearms i.e. ‘Disperse or we fire.’ Inevitably it would not be the gunmen who would be killed but ‘innocent members of the crowd.’ This would be a harsh and final step, tantamount to saying ‘all else has failed’ and for this reason must be rejected except in extremis. It cannot, however, be ruled out. We must await the outcome of the events planned for the weekend 29/30 Jan 72, see what effect our firmer measures have, and then if necessary advise the Home Office to urge Mr Faulkner to use his power under the Public Order Act to ban all public meetings, and speed up legal proceedings.”


1 G82.518-519

9.508 Colonel Dalzell-Payne said in his oral evidence to this Inquiry that the “additional measures” referred to in paragraph 14b consisted of “principally a more aggressive arrest policy”.1 However, the paper was not concerned principally with the hooligan problem but with the problem of enforcing the ban on marches. In this context the “additional measures” seem to us more likely to be a reference to the description in the next paragraph of the “only additional measure left for physical control”, namely the use of firearms and a policy of “Disperse or we fire”.

1 Day 245/18

9.509 We are more convinced by Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s evidence that his references to “stronger military measures” and “firmer measures” referred to in paragraphs 13 and 15 respectively were related to a more aggressive arrest policy directed at marchers and to the speeding up of prosecutions.1This may well be so, bearing in mind the recently issued Policy Instruction relating to marches,2to which we have referred earlier in this chapter and which was annexed to Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s paper under the heading “Instructions Regarding Government Ban on Processions”.3

1 Day 245/18-20 3 G82.520-521

2 G59.362-363

9.510 It was submitted by representatives of the families that the reference to “disperse or we fire” in Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s paper evidenced that “the prevailing culture within Whitehall, Westminster and Headquarters Northern Ireland was one which contemplated as legitimate, the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians, in order to achieve military objectives”.1 Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s observation that IRA activity might be viewed as “easier to control than mass civil disobedience” was, it was submitted, an attempt to characterise civil rights marchers as a greater threat than gunmen and bombers,2 and the proposition was advanced that the paper made it clear that it was “essential to be seen to police the NICRA march in a manner acceptable to Unionism”.3

1 FS1.671; FS1.660; FS1.667-671 3 FS1.669

2 FS1.669

9.511 We do not accept these submissions. In the paper Colonel Dalzell-Payne in fact referred to “disperse or we fire” as being “the only additional measure left for physical control” (our underlining) of the crowds by the security forces. It was not put forward as an option to be adopted either on the occasion of the march on 30th January 1972, or indeed immediately afterwards. Colonel Dalzell-Payne referred to the measure as “a harsh and final step” to be “rejected except in extremis”. That he did not believe that such circumstances had arisen is shown by his actual recommendations for future action should it prove necessary after the weekend marches: namely, advising the Home Office to urge Brian Faulkner to ban all public meetings and speed up legal proceedings. The paper therefore does not support the submission that there was any “culture” which regarded as legitimate the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians.

9.512 Furthermore, Colonel Dalzell-Payne did not characterise civil rights marchers as posing a greater threat than paramilitary republicans. The context of his observation on this point clearly shows that he was referring to the difficulties that arose from the high force levels required at marches, rather than making a direct comparison between the dangers posed by each entity
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

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9.513 The submission that Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s paper argued for the NICRA march to be policed in a manner acceptable to unionists seems to imply that this was to be done by way of support for this section of Northern Ireland’s society. If so, we consider this to be erroneous. The United Kingdom Government had pressed for the ban on all marches in part to balance the introduction of internment, in the hope that the measures together would be seen as a comprehensive policy for maintaining public order, rather than a security initiative directed against the minority community. The ban was (as appears from Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s paper) opposed by elements in all sections of the population. The point that Colonel Dalzell-Payne made was that unless the ban was enforced against civil rights marches, there was a risk of widespread defiance by unionists, increasing still further the pressure on the already stretched security forces.

9.514 Family representatives made two further submissions to us in relation to Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s paper. First was the proposition that it contemplated a likely crisis resulting from the firmer measures that would be employed to control the Londonderry march.1 Again, we are not persuaded by this argument. The paper did address a potential crisis, or at least potential problems, but the scenario envisaged was one in which the “firmer measures” had not proved effective, to the extent that the security forces lost, or were perceived to have lost, control of the march.

1 FS4.79

9.515 The second submission1 was that Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s paper was in some ways related to the memorandum written by General Ford in early January 1972 in which the General wrote that he was “coming to the conclusion that the minimum force necessary to achieve a restoration of law and order is to shoot selected ring leaders” of the rioting in Londonderry.2 We have considered this memorandum earlier in this chapter.3 We are not persuaded that there is any connection between the two documents, and accept Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s evidence that he did not see General Ford’s memorandum.4 As is noted above, Colonel Dalzell-Payne was not recommending a policy of
“disperse or we fire”, and his paper was not confined, as was that of General Ford, to the problem of hooliganism in Londonderry.

1 FS1.667-670 3 Paragraph 9.104

2 G48.299-301 4 Day 245/64

The deaths of Sergeant Gilgunn and Constable Montgomery

9.516 On the same day that Colonel Dalzell-Payne distributed his paper, Thursday 27th January 1972, a car containing five RUC officers was ambushed in the Creggan Road on its way to Rosemount Police Station in Londonderry.1Sergeant Peter Gilgunn and Constable David Montgomery were killed and Constable Charles George Maloney was injured by gunfire. 8th Infantry Brigade’s IntSum for the period indicated that a .45 sub-machine gun had been fired at the car.2 A Thompson sub-machine gun fires .45 rounds. It was reported in the press that a Thompson had been used.3 We received evidence to the contrary from PIRA 24, then the Officer Commanding the Provisional IRA in Derry, who indicated that his organisation had killed the two officers but whose recollection was that the weapon used was a .45 semi-automatic pistol.4 The officers were the first police officers to be killed in the city since the start of the Troubles.

1 G80.488 3 L18; L18.1

2 G108.654 4 Day 426/145-147; Day 427/39

Other matters relating to 27th January 1972

9.517 On this day, the RUC’s Assistant Chief Constable, David Corbett, issued an Operation Order for the Londonderry march.1This provided for 575 officers from 12 divisions to be on duty.

1 G80A.506.1

9.518 On the same day, in London, a proposed meeting of the MoD’s Northern Ireland Policy Group, which was scheduled to discuss the Londonderry march, was “cancelled due to British Honduras”.1

1 G75D.462.5

The question of assurances given by paramilitaries that the march would be peaceful

9.519 Brendan Duddy was a businessman in Londonderry who in January 1972 had contacts with local politicians, including both nationalists and unionists, and who knew Chief Superintendent Lagan well.1 His evidence to this Inquiry was that Chief Superintendent Lagan had requested him to seek assurances from paramilitary groups to the effect that individual members would be told not to march and that they would make sure that all weapons were removed from the vicinity of the march. He told us that a few days later he met Malachy McGurran, whom he regarded as a leading Official Republican in Derry, and told him what Chief Superintendent Lagan had requested. According to Brendan Duddy’s recollection, Malachy McGurran’s immediate response was that the request for these assurances was unnecessary, because he felt confident that there would be no shooting. He said that if people wanted to march they should be allowed to do so; however, he did give an assurance that all guns would be removed.2 In his oral evidence, Brendan Duddy told us that there was no discussion at all on what might happen after the march had finished.3 He also said that he might have spoken to Malachy McGurran on or about 22nd, 23rd or 24th January and would have reported his conversation to Chief Superintendent Lagan shortly afterwards, perhaps on the following day.4

1 AD199.1-3

2 AD199.4
3 Day 432/82

4 Day 432/84


9.520 In his written statement to this Inquiry, Brendan Duddy recorded that he had also approached Ruairí Ó’Brádaigh, then the leader of Provisional Sinn Féin, seeking a similar assurance from the Provisional IRA. According to this evidence, on 27th January 1972 Brendan Duddy was informed by someone (possibly Ruairí Ó’Brádaigh himself) that there would be no weapons on the march, but that the Provisionals were not even going to think about stopping from marching. Brendan Duddy said that he passed that information on to Chief Superintendent Lagan on the evening of 27th January.1

1 AD199.5-6; Day 432/86

9.521 Chief Superintendent Lagan, in his written statement to this Inquiry, told us that he had not expected there to be gunfire from either the Army or civilians on Bloody Sunday: “I based this expectation on what I generally believed would happen on the day and not on information that came from any specific source.”1 He stated that he did not receive any intelligence, assurances, information or understandings about what to expect in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday from anyone in the IRA or from any politicians or the clergy.2

1 JL1.6 2 JL1.7

9.522 Chief Superintendent Lagan’s statement was taken before Brendan Duddy came forward. By that time Chief Superintendent Lagan was too unwell either to give oral evidence or to be interviewed about Brendan Duddy’s account. This account was not put to any military witnesses because Brendan Duddy came forward long after they had given their evidence.

9.523 According to Liam Clarke and Kathryn Johnston’s book Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh and London 2001, 1st edition p. 51) Chief Superintendent Lagan had been assured by the organisers of the march that neither the Official nor the Provisional IRA would carry guns and he briefed Brigadier MacLellan to that effect at the meeting on 24th January.

9.524 Martin McGuinness (then the Adjutant of the Provisional IRA in Derry) told us that he had always presumed that people in NICRA were speaking to Chief Superintendent Lagan, but he definitely had no contact with him.1

1 Day 390/36-37

9.525 In 1998 Chief Superintendent Lagan wrote to the journalist Lena Ferguson (a television producer who had worked on an investigation of Bloody Sunday for Channel 4 News), referring to a Channel 4 news programme on 19th and 28th January 1998 which in turn referred to him having either directly or indirectly received intelligence on the movements of the IRA on 30th January 1972.1 In this letter2 Chief Superintendent Lagan stated that “this is completely untrue and that I was never in possession of such intelligence”.

1 X1.6.53-54 2 JL1.30

9.526 In his written statement to this Inquiry1 Anthony Martin told us that he was involved in the Derry Branch of NICRA. He stated that NICRA contacted both the Official and the Provisional IRA and received an assurance that there would be no IRA flags or guns on the march. He also stated that Brigid Bond “... would have told Frank Lagan that there would be no IRA violence on the march”.2 Brigid Bond was a prominent member of the Derry Civil Rights Association. In his oral evidence he said that he was present when Brigid Bond spoke by telephone to Chief Superintendent Lagan.3

1 AM24.9 3 Day 176/48-49

2 AM24.9

9.527 Although what evidence we have from Chief Superintendent Lagan appears to indicate that he neither sought nor was given any assurances from either the Provisional or the Official IRA, we accept the account given to us by Brendan Duddy. It seems to us that the apparent conflict between his evidence and that of Chief Superintendent Lagan probably arose from the fact that the latter was anxious to say nothing that might identify and thus prejudice the safety of his sources of intelligence. The same may be the case regarding Brigid Bond. In any event, on the basis assurances were given that Chief Superintendent Lagan passed on to Brigadier MacLellan, it seems that they related exclusively to the march, and thus would merely have reinforced the view of the officers concerned that it was not so much the march, but the rioting that was very likely to take place, when there might be armed IRA activity.

9.528 It was submitted by those representing most of the families that the Army command should have ensured that it was fully appreciated by the soldiers engaged in the arrest operation that “the IRA were unlikely to mount an attack on soldiers at or near the march”, instead of which some of the soldiers were led to believe and may have believed that there was a risk of them being fired on, especially from the Rossville Flats, “when this was not true”. The submission continued by suggesting that because of the failure to ensure that the soldiers appreciated that it was unlikely that the IRA would attack them “at or near the march”, many soldiers “may have been unduly apprehensive about this risk and therefore more disposed to use lethal force either as an unwarranted pre-emptive measure or as an over-reaction to a perceived threat or simply following the lead set by others”.1

1 FS1.774

9.529 We do not accept this submission. It is the case that paramilitary republicans were unlikely to mount an attack on the security forces using the march as cover, but there were reasonable grounds for believing (from what had happened in the city over the previous months) that there was an ever-present and real risk of sniping attacks by paramilitaries, especially if rioting broke out, as was likely to happen. In the face of this risk, it would in our view have been irresponsible and in breach of their duty to do the best they could to safeguard their soldiers, for the Army command to seek to persuade them in effect to lower their guard, rather than being constantly alert. We do not accept therefore that through any failure of Army command, or indeed otherwise, soldiers were made unduly apprehensive. The state of mind of soldiers who fired on Bloody Sunday is a matter we consider later in this report, in the course of dealing with what actually happened on the day.

9.530 On the morning of 28th January 1972, the MoD’s Permanent Under Secretary’s meeting discussed a number of matters concerning Northern Ireland, including the marches planned for the weekend. As to these the minute recorded that “the basis of the Security Force’s operations were noted and it was agreed that Mr Maitland [the Prime Minister’s Chief Press Secretary] would take up with Mr Hill [the United Kingdom Representative’s Press Liaison Officer] the question of the PR activity which would be necessary particularly in connection with the Londonderry march”.1The minute went on to record that so far as this was concerned action lay with No 10 Downing Street but that the Deputy Chief Public Relations Officer at HQNI, who was Lieutenant Colonel Tony Yarnold, would no doubt be in contact with them.2

1 G89A.548.1 2 G89A.548.2

9.531 The discussion on marches probably reflected what had transpired at the GEN 47 Committee meeting the previous day and included at least an oral report by Edward Heath on the JSC’s approval of the GOC’s plan for dealing with the two marches.

9.532 A meeting of the United Kingdom’s Cabinet’s Defence and Oversea Policy Committee had been scheduled for 28th January 1972, but in the event it was cancelled, possibly because Lord Carrington was in Rome discussing a new defence agreement with the Maltese Prime Minister.1

1 G86.533; Day 291/42; FR22.139

9.533 At 7.45pm on the evening of 28th January, a second telegram was sent from Donald Maitland to Clifford Hill, which referred back to his message of the previous day. Donald Maitland told this Inquiry that he did not recall this document, and that he might not necessarily have drafted it himself.1 The telegram read:2

“CONFIDENTIAL

TO IMMEDIATE UKREP BELFAST TEL NO 8 OF 28 JANUARY.

MY TELEGRAM NO. 7 OF 27 JANUARY. MARCH ON SUNDAY.

FOLLOWING FOR HILL FROM MAITLAND.

MINISTERS WOULD LIKE THE SUGGESTION PUT TO MR. FAULKNER THAT A STATEMENT BE ISSUED BY NORTHERN IRELAND GOVERNMENT BEFORE SUNDAY’S MARCH.

2. THIS STATEMENT WOULD BE TO THE EFFECT THAT

(A) ALL RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS OF LONDONDERRY SHOULD KEEP OFF THE STREET SEMICLN

(B) THE SECURITY FORCES WILL USE MINIMUM FORCE SEMICLN

(C) THE SECURITY FORCES WILL TAKE THE MEASURES WHICH THE TACTICAL SITUATION REQUIRES SEMICLN

(D) THEY WILL DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO MINIMISE INCONVENIENCE TO PEACEFUL CITIZENS.

3. THE PURPOSE OF THIS STATEMENT WOULD BE

(A) TO PREPARE PUBLIC OPINION HERE AND IN NORTHERN IRELAND FOR VIOLENT SCENES ON T.V. FOLLOWING THE MARCH SEMICLN

(B) TO EXPLAIN IN ADVANCE THAT THE SECURITY FORCES’ COUNTER-MEASURES WILL TAKE PLACE AT POINTS OF THE ARMY’S CHOOSING SEMICLN

(C) TO EXPLAIN IN ADVANCE WHY C.S. GAS MAY NOT BE USED.

4. PARALLEL WITH SUCH A STATEMENT WE SHOULD LIKE YOU TO ARRANGE FOR THE PRESS TO BE REMINDED OF THE REPEATED CALLS OVER RECENT MONTHS BY MEMBERS OF THE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY FOR A BAN ON ALL MARCHES.

5. WOULD YOU PLEASE PUT THESE SUGGESTIONS URGENTLY TO MR. FAULKNER’S OFFICE.”


1 KM11.10-11 2 G90.550

9.534 Edward Heath accepted in his oral evidence to this Inquiry that one of the purposes of making the suggested statement was to show the public that while there was likely to be violence this would be the fault of those conducting an illegal march. He also accepted that as officials and politicians thought about the march in greater detail in the days leading up to 30th January 1972, the possibility of violence was being seen as a rather more substantial risk than had seemed likely earlier in the week.1

1 Day 273/113

9.535 It was submitted to this Inquiry by representatives of some of the families that the reference to “violent scenes” in this telegram, when considered in relation to many of the other documents considered above, was evidence of an awareness among senior civil servants and politicians of the very serious risk involved in proceeding with an arrest operation, or indeed with seeking to stop the march. It was argued that the phrase was considerably stronger than the warning contained in the Prime Minister’s summing up of the GEN 47 meeting, where only (seemingly commonplace) “incidents of confrontation” were mentioned, and hence that leading policy makers in Westminster appreciated that there was a greater danger associated with the proposed operation, namely that “innocent civilians may be shot”. Further, the alleged dichotomy between the telegram and the GEN 47 minute led to a further submission regarding the accuracy of the latter, and the proposition that there might have been another meeting about the march that took place on 28th January 1972, the records of which this Inquiry has not seen.1

1 FS1.763-767; FS4.79-82

9.536 We are not persuaded by this interpretation of the relevant documents, and do not accept that the reference to “violent scenes” was substantially different from the Prime Minister’s warning about “incidents of confrontation” at the GEN 47 meeting. A number of senior civil servants and ministers gave evidence, which we accept, to the effect that they anticipated only the “usual rioting” at the end of the march, and not a major shooting incident (Kelvin White,1 Arthur Hockaday,2 Lord Balniel3 and Lord Carrington4). In our view, it is this expectation that is reflected in the second Maitland–Hill telegram, which is consistent not only with the GEN 47 minute, but also with Anthony Stephens’ current situation report dated 28th January 1972, in which he wrote that:5

“It seems inevitable that, with the large numbers of demonstrators which are expected to turn out in Londonderry, bringing the march to a halt is bound to result in the local hooligans coming to the fore. It is being suggested to the Northern Ireland Government that there would be advantage in putting out a statement beforehand which recalled that it was the Catholics who were pressing in mid-1971 for a ban on marches; stressed the illegality of any march in defiance of the ban; and made it clear that the security forces would ensure that any such march was halted, with no more force than was necessary.”

1 Day 269/124

2 Day 271/75-76

3 KC10.12
4 Day 280/60; Day 280/135

5 G87.535


9.537 The use of the present tense (“It is being suggested”) in the second sentence of the above quotation indicates that this document was written after the decision had been made to send the second message.

9.538 Following the telegram, the Army and RUC issued a joint statement, warning that the marches were illegal and that they would be stopped at a time and place of the security forces’ choice.1 This document is set out and discussed below, but it is relevant to note here that the statement included the comment that “Experience this year has already shown that attempted marches often end in violence”. None of these earlier incidents had involved outbreaks of shooting. For these reasons it seems more than likely that the reference in the second telegram is to televised scenes of violence involving hooligans and taking place after the march, rather than a gun battle with paramilitary republicans.

1 G93.556

9.539 It is possible that the public statement (and hence also the telegram suggesting it) arose from the recommendations contained in Colonel Dalzell-Payne’s paper on marches.

9.540 There is no evidence at all to support the suggestion that there was a meeting of ministers on 28th January 1972, which prompted the second telegram. We accept the evidence of a number of ministers and civil servants that this telegram arose from the response of officials to the conclusions of the GEN 47 meeting the previous day, as is reflected by the record of the MoD’s Permanent Under Secretary’s meeting on the morning of 28th January. No further ministerial authorisation was required, and none was given (Edward Heath,1 Robert Armstrong2,3 and Lord Balniel4). There is no document recording any further ministerial discussion, which would have to have taken place on a Friday (a day when ministers would have tried to avoid meetings), and probably in the absence of the Secretary of State for Defence, who we were told was in Rome.5
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

Post  Guest on Wed 16 Jun - 11:21

9.541 On Friday 28th January 1972, Brian Faulkner, in his capacity as Minister for Home Affairs, signed an order, under section 34 of the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922, authorising Brigadier MacLellan to direct the occupation by troops under his command of “such lands, buildings or other property within the city of Londonderry as he may deem necessary for the purpose of military operations on 30 January 1972”.1 Brian Faulkner also replied on this day to General Tuzo’s letter and report of 25th January (considered above2), in which the GOC had defended the handling of the previous weekend’s marches (including the one at Magilligan Strand).3

1 B1279.023

2 Paragraph 9.284
3 G74AA.458.6.1


9.542 The Derry Journal1 and Irish News2 both reported the following NICRA press statement in their editions of 28th January 1972:3

“A meeting of stewards for Sunday’s planned Civil Rights demonstration and rally at Guildhall Square, Derry, will be held at the Creggan Centre at 8.00 p.m. tonight. Stewards will receive final instructions from members of the N.I.C.R.A. executive, and be fully briefed on plans and tactics.

Special emphasis will be placed on the absolute necessity for a peaceful incident free day on Sunday.

Civil Rights Organiser, Mr. Kevin McCorry, has pointed out that Mr. Brian Faulkner and Mr. John Taylor are counting on an outbreak of violence to justify any British Army violence used on Sunday. Sunday would be ‘make or break day’ with the cause of Civil Rights and the release of internees.

Any riot, any trouble, any incident, must be confined to members of the British Army. They disgraced themselves at Magilligan on Saturday last with their unprovoked savagery. Do not let them disgrace you, the City of Derry and the whole democratic cause, said Mr McCorry.”


1 L18.1 3 G92.552

2 L18

Lieutenant Colonel Wilford’s reconnaissance on 28th January 1972

9.543 Colonel Wilford was unfamiliar with Londonderry and on the morning of 28th January 1972 he conducted a reconnaissance of the city, both in a car and in a helicopter.1

1 B1110.062

9.544 Colonel Wilford’s evidence to this Inquiry was that he could not remember the helicopter reconnaissance. In his written statement to the Inquiry he told us:1

“39. I do not recall actually being in the helicopter. I would have had a map with me and I would have looked at various important points that could be seen from the air. I would have got a better idea of distances from this and no doubt I would have been struck that Londonderry was physically very similar to Belfast i.e. an urban area with narrow streets, open spaces and high rise blocks. I think the smallness of the place struck me.

40. As I flew over in the helicopter I would have been making my appreciation. I had to be flexible. I did not know the size of the crowd, the route or routes it would take or where I would be called upon to deploy my soldiers. Two places had been highlighted and I appreciated that trouble could arise at either or both of those locations and/or elsewhere.”


1 B1110.023-024

9.545 In his reconnaissance by car, Colonel Wilford was driven by Captain INQ 1803, the Grade 3 staff officer responsible for intelligence at 8th Infantry Brigade.

9.546 We set out below a photograph and map showing the relevant area of the city.





9.547 Colonel Wilford’s recollection was that the Intelligence Officer pointed out the Presbyterian church and a nearby derelict building; and that he noted the latter as a possible Tac HQ. He recalled that the car did not enter the no-go area and added in his written statement to this Inquiry that “I did not go up and down William Street because that was in the Bogside”.1 However, in his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry, Colonel Wilford said that his reconnaissance by car had included William Street.2 Captain INQ 1803’s evidence to this Inquiry was that the car did not enter the Bogside or Creggan, because this would have been dangerous, but that he did drive Colonel Wilford around the “William Street, St Eugene’s Cathedral area, so that he could see the general topography”.3 Neither witness recalled going onto the City Walls or to the Embassy Ballroom.

1 B1110.024 3C1803.6

2 WT11.37

9.548 Captain INQ 1803’s recollection was that details of any arrest plan were not discussed. He pointed out that at that time Colonel Wilford would not have had any specific plan. Although he could not recall it, he thought that the two would have discussed the concept of the arrest operation in general terms. However, since Captain INQ 1803’s role was to provide information about the area and he was not himself “in the operational side”, it was, he said, not for him to discuss the details of the operation.1

1 Day 293/35-37; Day 293/60-61

9.549 It was submitted to us on behalf of some of the soldiers1 (not including Colonel Wilford) that Colonel Wilford thought of the Presbyterian church as a route for his arrest force during the course of the reconnaissance. Their submission appears to be based on the evidence of Captain INQ 1803. However, this witness had a very limited recollection of events, though he was willing to agree that discussions about deployment through the Presbyterian church could have taken place. In his oral evidence to this Inquiry there was the following exchange with Captain INQ 1803:2

“Q. So far as your recce was concerned, by car, did you discuss with him possible routes in for his arrest force? Perhaps if I ask you specifically about the Presbyterian Church: was there consideration or discussion about the Presbyterian Church in the course of this recce, do you recall?

A. The Presbyterian Church was discussed in the context of an area where he might have, or might deploy some of his unit, have a holding area prior to being involved in any arrest operation.

Q. You do not recall, do you, whether the Presbyterian Church or the wall adjacent to it leading through to William Street, was discussed as a possible route through which two companies might be sent to conduct the arrest operation or part of it?

A. I do not specifically recall that, but I think it is quite likely that that is the sort of thing – I would not deny that that discussion might have taken place, but I do not specifically recall it.

Q. If there had been discussion of that kind, would you have been giving a view as to whether this was a feasible proposition to Colonel Wilford, given it was his first visit to the city, as you understood it, or would you simply have been advising him on what the geographical layout was, where the hooligans would be and so on?

A. No, I think I had thought that he was considering doing something that I thought would not have been, you know, a practical – if it had been inappropriate, I would have said so to him.

Q. Do you have any recollection of there being a suggestion from Colonel Wilford that he might deploy troops through that church or the grounds of the church, the Presbyterian Church?

A. Well, as you have raised the matter it is in my mind at the moment, I cannot quite sort of distinguish whether it is something that seems very logically to happen or whether it did, but I do not specifically remember discussing it, but it is quite possible we did.

Q. You knew the area, did you, well enough to be able to advise him as to whether that was a feasible proposition or not?

A. In terms of exactly what would be the feasible proposition?

Q. The nature of the obstacles, to start with, that the troops might find going through that area and/or the possibility of making themselves more blatant targets for IRA snipers, things of that kind?

A. Well, in a general sense I was aware of the topography and of course we were actually situated there at the time, so these thoughts or discussions would have taken place and assessing the practicalities and drawing attention to the sort of experience of the brigade, particularly the resident battalions, in that specific area over the whole period since the internment operation in August last year, the year before.”


1 FS8.544 2Day 293/62-64

9.550 The representatives of the same soldiers also submitted that the reconnaissance was brief and limited by the security situation at the time. It was submitted on behalf of some of the families that the reconnaissance was completely inadequate and that a senior officer who could have advised him should have accompanied Colonel Wilford.1

1 FS1.858; FR1.41; FR1.402; FR7.195

9.551 It was submitted on behalf of other soldiers (including Colonel Wilford) that the Presbyterian church was in a perfect pivotal position in that, if Support Company went over the wall there, it could link up with A Company to the west or C Company to the east, and that the factor that ruled it out was that the ground level on one side was significantly lower than on the other. It was submitted that this was:1

“… just the sort of fact which is all too obvious with the benefit of hindsight but which might well not have been anticipated, even with the benefit of careful preparation and/or local knowledge. Only those who had actually climbed the wall and looked at the ground on both sides were likely to have appreciated the problem.”


1 FS7.834-836

9.552 Although we accept that the Presbyterian church was in a good position from the point of view of deploying soldiers in an encircling arrest movement, we do not accept that the failure to appreciate the impracticability of the Presbyterian church route was obvious only with the benefit of hindsight. The whole idea was for the troops to move very fast indeed to get behind rioters. Colonel Wilford’s priority, when making his plans, should have been to ensure that large numbers of troops could get to the rioters quickly.

9.553 We find that this was an unsatisfactory reconnaissance. In our view, a more careful examination of the terrain should have taken place. This would have revealed that the Presbyterian church route was not suitable. Colonel Wilford should have consulted closely with those stationed in the city on how best an arrest operation should be conducted and should have looked at the route through which he proposed to send troops. We formed the firm impression that Colonel Wilford was intent on showing the local troops how an arrest operation should be conducted and was not keen to take advice from them on how it should be done.1 As will be seen later in this report, in the end Colonel Wilford did not launch his arrest operation, or any part of it, through the Presbyterian church route.

1 B1110.155-6; B1110.174; X1.35.5-11; X1.35.14; X1.35.35; X1.35.51; X1.35.65; Day 312/25-33; Day 315/5-8;
Day 317/33-45

9.554 At this point it is convenient to deal with evidence of other reconnaissances before 30th January 1972 by officers of 1 PARA.

9.555 Captain INQ 1495, a Company Commander in 1 R ANGLIAN, recalled escorting a number of officers of 1 PARA on foot around the area north of Waterloo Place. His recollection was that he had also shown them two walls, one on each side of the Presbyterian church, and had suggested to them that their troops might trap rioters in a pincer movement on 30th January 1972 by going over the wall on the east side of the Presbyterian church.1 He could not recall whether Colonel Wilford had been among the Parachute Regiment officers whom he had escorted but thought that the reconnaissance had taken place about a week before Bloody Sunday.2
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

Post  Guest on Wed 16 Jun - 11:21

1 C1495.2; Day 304/49 2 Day 304/46; Day 304/56

9.556 Major INQ 10, the Commander of A Company of 1 PARA, recalled going on a reconnaissance to Londonderry with the Commanders of C Company and Support Company.1 He thought that he had done so before 30th January 1972. In the course of his oral evidence he said that he no longer recalled the date of the visit but he remained convinced that it had taken place before the day of the march.2 Major 221A and Major Loden (also known to the Inquiry as Major INQ 236), the Commanders of C Company and Support Company of 1 PARA respectively, did not refer in their evidence to any such reconnaissance. Major Loden, in his oral evidence to this Inquiry, said that any reconnaissance before the day would have been difficult because the battalion was “pretty permanently on the streets of Belfast”. He explained that Colonel Wilford had made a reconnaissance but that other members of the battalion had not because they had been occupied elsewhere.3

1 B1343.001 3Day 345/2

2 Day 289/4; Day 289/54; Day 289/66

9.557 Major 159, Commander of 53 Battery, 22 Lt AD Regt, told this Inquiry that he saw a group of about four members of the Parachute Regiment carrying out observations from the City Walls on the night before the march. According to him they were being escorted by an officer from a local battalion.1The evidence of Major 159 is inconsistent with the convincing body of material that demonstrates that 1 PARA did not arrive in Londonderry until early in the morning on 30th January 1972.

1 B1953.001; Day 349/107; Day 349/134

9.558 Colonel Wilford, in his oral evidence to this Inquiry, said that he was the only officer from 1 PARA who made any reconnaissance of Londonderry for the purposes of the 30th January march. He had no recollection of anyone suggesting to him during his reconnaissance that 1 PARA should use the route over the wall next to the Presbyterian church.1 The evidence of Captain INQ 1803 was that no other person was present at the reconnaissance that he conducted with Colonel Wilford.2

1 Day 312/21-22 2 Day 293/60

9.559 Neither Captain INQ 1495 nor Major INQ 10 recalled Colonel Wilford being present during the visit that they describe, while both Colonel Wilford and Captain INQ 1803 said that the reconnaissance that they conducted on Friday was by them alone. The account given by Captain INQ 1495 was not supported by any evidence other than that of Major INQ 10. Further, we know that Captain INQ 1495’s Commanding Officer, Colonel Roy Jackson, was not consulted by Colonel Wilford about the plans for the arrest operation.1 It seems highly unlikely that one of his officers could have escorted officers from 1 PARA on a reconnaissance without Colonel Jackson becoming aware of the fact.

1 CJ2.9

9.560 We have concluded that only Captain INQ 1803 accompanied Colonel Wilford on the reconnaissance that took place on Friday 28th January 1972. We consider that the recollections of Major INQ 10 and Captain INQ 1495 were at fault. They were probably each recalling reconnaissances that took place in relation to a different operation.

The co-ordinating conference

9.561 The Operation Order provided at paragraph 11(c) that a “co-ordinating conference” would be held at Brigade Headquarters (Ebrington Barracks) at 1430 hours on 28th January for all commanding officers.1 Some witnesses, including Colonel Ferguson, the Commanding Officer of 22 Lt AD Regt, referred to this meeting as a Brigade Orders Group. Colonel Ferguson told this Inquiry:2

“An orders group is not a conference … it is not a debating organisation, it is a situation where orders are given out.”


1 G95.575 2Day 281/58

9.562 However, the orders for Operation Forecast had already been distributed in writing. It seems to us that the meeting on 28th January 1972 could properly be described as a conference. Colonel INQ 598, the Commanding Officer of 1 CG, also referred to the meeting as an order group but gave the following description, in general terms, of the purpose of such a meeting:1

“I think if they could do it, they would get the written order to you first and then it would be a confirmatory session, the order group, so to speak, where anybody could ask questions or raise doubts on what was in the order.”


1 Day 272/4

9.563 Colonel INQ 598 could not recall whether in this instance he had received the written orders before attending the co-ordinating conference or on arrival there.1

1 Day 272/3

9.564 In a draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Brigadier MacLellan recorded that he had approved the written orders on 27th January 1972 and on the following afternoon had “held a co-ordinating conference to clear up any queries on those orders”.1

1 B1232

9.565 The co-ordinating conference was attended by the following officers:

• Brigadier MacLellan

• Colonel Steele

• Colonel Ferguson, Commanding Officer of 22 Lt AD Regt

• Colonel Jackson, Commanding Officer of 1 R ANGLIAN

• Colonel Welsh, Commanding Officer of 2 RGJ

• Colonel Wilford, Commanding Officer of 1 PARA

• Colonel INQ 598, Commanding Officer of 1 CG

• Major INQ 1900, Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster of 8th Infantry Brigade

• Captain INQ 1803, General Staff Officer 3 (Intelligence) of 8th Infantry Brigade

• Chief Superintendent Lagan, RUC.

9.566 In his draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Brigadier MacLellan wrote that the conference was also attended by David Corbett, Assistant Chief Constable (Operations) of the RUC.1 The recollection of Chief Superintendent Lagan, in his statement to this Inquiry, was that he was the only non-military person present.2 Chief Superintendent Lagan’s recollection of the meeting was faulty in at least one respect, in that he recalled that it was held on Saturday 29th January 1972, the day before the march. The Inquiry was unable to obtain evidence from David Corbett, who is deceased.

1 B1232 2 JL1.12

9.567 At the conference, Brigadier MacLellan informed the officers that he would be exercising command on 30th January 1972 from his headquarters at Ebrington Barracks and that Chief Superintendent Lagan would be with him. He also told them that General Ford intended to observe the event and that General Ford’s “Rover Group” would include David Corbett and also the Colonel (GS) Information Policy, Colonel Maurice Tugwell.1

1 B1232

9.568 In his draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Brigadier MacLellan told the Widgery Inquiry:1

“At this co-ordinating conference I made a particular point of stressing that the event was to be handled in the lowest possible key, that CS gas was only to be used when in imminent danger of being over-run, and the necessity for using minimum force.”


1 B1232

9.569 Brigadier MacLellan’s evidence that he emphasised the need for the operation to be “low key” is confirmed by a document created by Colonel Ferguson, the Commanding Officer of 22 Lt AD Regt. During the conference Colonel Ferguson made notes which include the words “low key”.1

1 B1122.48; Day 281/93-94

9.570 At the conference Brigadier MacLellan went through the order. He made detailed notes before the conference, which were typed up and have survived in that form. The notes follow, to a great extent, the topics set out in the written Operation Order.

9.571 Under the heading “Background to the Event”, the notes were as follows:1

“2. Latest Int assessment

a. No Shantallow.

b. Est of numbers from Creggan. Highest now 20,000 but expect 5,000.

c. Mood of NICRA; non-violent; use of stewards.

d. Number at actual Meeting Place possibly 500; mainly moderate.

e. No info on contingents from Waterside.

f. Hooligan violence inevitable.

g. Route. Most likely – Eastway – Lone Moor Rd – Creggan St – William St.”


1 G88.537

9.572 Later in the notes, at Item 6, there is a further reference to the receipt of intelligence:1

“Vulnerability of Blighs Lane and Brandywell

1. Int received of threat to Brandywell.

2. Pre-stocking with ammo.

3. Threat to these locs to be taken very seriously.”


1 G88.538

9.573 On one copy of the notes, the words “Present active build up” appear in Brigadier MacLellan’s own handwriting against the heading “Latest Int assessment”.1 Brigadier MacLellan was unable, when giving evidence to this Inquiry, to recall the significance of those words.2

1 B1279.102 2 B1279.034

9.574 Both Brigadier MacLellan and Colonel Steele, in their oral evidence to this Inquiry, said that they thought that most of the intelligence that they had received relating to the march came from Chief Superintendent Lagan.1

1 Day 261/63; Day 266/75

9.575 However, Brigadier MacLellan also had available to him at the time of the conference the signal that had been sent to him by David on the preceding day. As we have noted above, it seems likely that the reference to a threat to the Brandywell was based on information contained in that signal.

9.576 The second section in the notes refers to the threats perceived by the security forces to be facing them. The notes were:1

“Threat

No change from Op Order ie

1. Confrontation between SF and marchers.

2. IRA activity, to take advantage of event.

3. Hooligan reaction – continuing after event.

4. Sectarian unrest, in Fountain St area.”


1 G88.537

9.577 The following section is headed “Concept of Ops”. The notes there were as follows:1

“1. Lowest possible key.

2. Emplacement of Barriers at last possible moment.

3. Use of CS Gas – only when in imminent danger of being over-run.

4. Leading members of march will be non-violent.”


1 G88.537

9.578 Under “Forecast of conduct of ops” Brigadier MacLellan wrote:1

“1. Routes.

2. Dispersal.

3. Prolonged hooligan violence thereafter...”


1 G88.539

9.579 The evidence of the officers present at the co-ordinating conference was that details of Colonel Wilford’s plans for the arrest operation were not discussed there.

9.580 In the course of his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Brigadier MacLellan was asked about the need for marchers and rioters to be separated before any arrest operation was launched. The following exchange then took place:1

“Q. Do you remember whether, on this conference, that there was any discussion as to how exactly the arrest operation would be carried out, assuming that the march took its expected route?

A. I think this conference took place on 28th or something like that?

Q. It did.

A. Two days before the march, which was attended by the commanding officer of the Parachute Battalion. So he had two days, or certainly time to do a reconnaissance and, as the tactical plan was his, before he had done a reconnaissance, there was no point in really discussing it with him, almost.

Q. So there would not have been any discussion on this occasion about how you would carry out the operation or how the arrest force was to get behind the marchers?

A. No, I think it may have been too straightforward, but he was told what his task was, was to arrest as many hooligans as he could, basically.

Q. Was there any discussion that you recall at the conference as to how far the arrest force was to be allowed to go into the Bogside?

A. No, I think that follows from separation in a way. The restrictions I put on were tactical rather than geographical, they were not to get sucked into the marchers and the main town.”


1 Day 261/76-77

9.581 Later in the course of giving his evidence, it was pointed out to Brigadier MacLellan that Colonel Wilford had conducted a reconnaissance on the morning of 28th January 1972, immediately before the co-ordinating conference. Brigadier MacLellan said he still had no recollection of discussing Colonel Wilford’s plans at the conference.1 He was then asked whether there should have been such a discussion, either at the conference or at some other time. He replied:2

“A. This was some 48 hours, I think, before Sunday 30th, and if he had any problems he had only to come back to me.

Q. You, 8 Brigade, through you as commanding officer, knew the geography of the area better than the Paras could know.

A. My – the brigade knew the area better, yes.

Q. The tactics the hooligans had used over the previous weeks and months were known to you. Who told Colonel Wilford all of this?

A. He was at liberty to – I mean, he was not a schoolboy; he was a senior officer, and he would ask if he did not know.



Q. Who told Colonel Wilford any of the detail that may have mattered to him in carrying out the arrest operation on the ground?

A. I do not know, but I think it is probably highly likely that he consulted the Brigade Major, and may well have asked the other commanding officers. If he did not, he should have done, should he not?

Q. That is your view, is it?

A. That is my view. It was down to him –

Q. Down to him to ask?

A. To find out. That is what reconnaissance is about.

Q. This is clear, is it not: neither at the co-ordinating conference, or indeed at any later time before or on the day of Bloody Sunday, did you ask Colonel Wilford what plan he had in mind?

A. No, I did not.

Q. Should you not have done so?

A. I do not think so.”


1 Day 263/56-57 2 Day 263/58-59

9.582 Brigadier MacLellan confirmed that he had not known of Colonel Wilford’s plan to put troops over the wall to the east of the Presbyterian church. He qualified his answer by asking whether there was a reference in the Army logs to such a plan, saying that if there was then he would have known about the plan through listening to the radio communications. The logs to which he was referring were those kept on the day of the march and there is no reference to such a plan in them. In any event, it is clear from this evidence that Brigadier MacLellan did not have, and was not claiming to have had, any knowledge before the day of the march of the plan to send part of the arrest force over this wall.1

1 Day 265/1

9.583 Colonel Wilford, in his draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, stated that until the rioting started it was not really possible for him to be specific in his plans.1 His evidence to this Inquiry was that although he could not recall discussing his plans with Brigadier MacLellan, he thought that any such discussion would have taken place before the co-ordinating conference and not at it.2

1 B945 2 Day 312/24-25

9.584 Colonel Wilford did not discuss his plans with the local commanders, either at the conference or at any other time. In his oral evidence to this Inquiry the following exchange took place:1

“Q. … Had there been discussion, on either side, with brigade or with local commanders as to the proposed route, for example, through the Presbyterian Church, you might have been told a day or two or three before ‘that simply is not a practicable route’?

A. … I cannot recall, in fact, having had a conversation with the Brigade Commander, but I am certain I must have had.

Q. Not about the detail of the route?

A. I am sure I would have spoken about what I – my initial appreciation was.

Q. Did you speak with other local commanding officers?

A. No, because I did not meet other local commanding officers until in fact the day of the briefing.

Q. So their knowledge of the locality and what has sometimes been described as the tactics of the rioters, the routes they may use, the routes into the area, were not discussed in any detail by you with the local commanders?

A. No.

Q. Would that not have been a sensible step to take in preparation for this operation?

A. Well, they were not, they were not presented to me. I do not think that at the time that I, that I gave it much thought, but I honestly again cannot recall. I looked at the ground myself. I obviously did have some conversation with the person who took me round and I had some conversation, which I do not recall, with the Brigadier, um, and that, I think, was sufficient.

This was a built-up area and although it was in Londonderry, not in Belfast, it was a, a built-up area, the sort of area that we were totally accustomed to.”


1 Day 315/6-8

9.585 Colonel Steele gave confusing oral evidence on this subject. He was initially asked whether the arrest operation had been discussed at the co-ordinating conference:1

“Q. … We have looked at the operation order and we have looked at what you described as the sensible conditions for the launch of an arrest operation – was there discussion of those conditions at the co-ordinating conference?

A. Not to my recollection.

Q. Would there have been a discussion of how the arrest operation would be carried out?

A. No, because how the arrest operation was to be carried out was already spelt out in the operation order and, of course, it was up to the commanding officer of 1st Parachute Regiment to produce a detailed plan.”


1 Day 266/86-87

9.586 Later in his evidence he suggested that he did know the outline of Colonel Wilford’s plan:1

“Q. But prior to 30th January you had not been involved in any discussion with Colonel Wilford as to even the broad outline of his plan?

A. No, I did have the broad outline of his plan, which was that he had three sub-units that he had thought that he would use through barriers 11, 12 and 14; I knew that he was going to move from the FUP [Forming Up Position] to a forward FUP; I did not know which call sign was going through which barrier and that I think was probably the extent of the knowledge that I had of his plan.

I said yesterday, if you recall, that I would have been surprised if Colonel Wilford had not come back to the brigade headquarters after his reconnaissance to give us maybe the broad outline of the way he saw his plan going, but I also said, if you remember, that I could not recollect that.”


1 Day 267/101-102

9.587 His recollection is wrong in at least one respect since it was not Colonel Wilford’s initial plan to put troops through Barrier 12. Colonel Steele went on to indicate that the arrest operation was discussed at the conference:1

“Q. If we come to the co-ordinating conference … the second important matter was, if there was to be an arrest operation, how it was to be carried out?

A. Yes.

Q. It could not be carried out in isolation from all of the other battalions?

A. That was why, at the co-ordinating conference, there was a very wide discussion about separation and there was discussion about the arrest operation.”


1 Day 268/23

9.588 He was then asked again about this topic:1

“Q. … You have been asked on a number of occasions about your knowledge of Colonel Wilford’s own plan for the arrest operation. You did suggest that, although you said you do not recollect specifically, but you envisaged that Colonel Wilford may have spoken to the brigade commander about the arrest plan?

A. Yes, I think I went further and said that I would have rather expected him to.

Q. We know that Colonel Wilford did his aerial reconnaissance and his reconnaissance by car before the co-ordinating conference on 28th January … Would not the place for any discussion of the detail of Colonel Wilford – or the ambit of Colonel Wilford’s arrest plan, would not the place for that discussion have been the co-ordinating conference?

A. Yes, I would agree, but it was not.

Q. Because that is where all the commanders were gathered together; was it not?

A. Yes.

Q. That is where everyone was best placed to assist Colonel Wilford?

A. Yes.”


1 Day 268/181-182

9.589 The recollection of Colonel Jackson, the Commanding Officer of 1 R ANGLIAN, was that:1

“… nothing came out of that co-ordinating conference to say how the scoop-up operation would be carried out … nothing on that conference gave any idea of what was going to happen.”


1 Day 285/44-45

9.590 Colonel INQ 598, the Commanding Officer of 1 CG, was also asked whether he recalled any discussion taking place at the conference about the proposed arrest operation:1

“Q. What I am really asking you, General, is whether you can remember any detail, if it was discussed in your presence, for example, of just how that arrest operation would be mounted?

A. No, because I do not think it was discussed in detail, the operation at the conference. I think that would presumably – I mean, 1 Parachute Regiment were told to get on with it and it was the commanding officer’s plan would be the detail of it.

Q. That would have been unlikely to have been discussed in your presence anyway and at the co-ordinating conference?

A. Very, yes.”


1 Day 272/25

9.591 Colonel Ferguson, the Commanding Officer of 22 Lt AD Regt, could not recall there being any detailed discussion about the proposed arrest operation.1

1 Day 281/54; Day 281/96

9.592 Colonel Welsh, the Commanding Officer of 2 RGJ, was asked in his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry whether he knew in detail of any proposed arrest operation. He replied:1

“A. No, I did not know in detail. I knew that there was a possibility that the 1st Parachute Regiment and posses from others might be used to arrest rioters if a suitable opportunity arose.”


1 WT10.55

9.593 His evidence in his written statement to this Inquiry was:1

“I am not sure whether I was aware of the detail of the arrest operation. I think I was probably aware in general terms that it would involve some form of pincer movement and the fact that it would go ahead if the opportunity arose.”


1 B1340.002

9.594 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, he said that he did not think that there was any discussion at the co-ordinating conference of the detail of the arrest operation.1

1 Day 282/53

9.595 Major INQ 1900 had no recollection of there being any discussion at the co-ordinating conference of the detail of the proposed scoop-up operation.1 His evidence was that there was no mention at that conference about the distance into the Bogside that the arresting force might need to go in order to get behind the rioters. He thought, though, that there could well have been such discussions between the Brigade Major (Colonel Steele) and Colonel Wilford.2

1 Day 241/52 2 Day 241/52

9.596 In his written statement to this Inquiry, Chief Superintendent Lagan set out his recollections of the discussions at the meeting:1

“During the meeting Brigadier MacLellan gave a description of the area and spoke about what was expected and what needed to be done. He discussed the different regiments’ assignments and the different barriers. The discussion was fairly general. The arrest operation was to be carried out by the Paras. Nothing was discussed in my hearing about 1 Paras [sic] role or the potential for IRA involvement on the day. I do not think that the issue of risk (i.e. of injury or loss of life) was discussed either. I assume that matters relating both to the arrest operation and to arms were dealt with by Brigadier MacLellan directly with the Paras and that it was not necessary for him to address these matters with everyone who had attended the meeting.”


1 JL1.12

9.597 According to his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Brigadier MacLellan did not discuss the arrest operation with Colonel Wilford after the co-ordinating conference:1

“Q. You saw Colonel Wilford at the co-ordinating conference that he must have attended. Do you recall when next you saw him?

A. No.

Q. Do you recall whether you saw him or would have seen him at any stage up to and including the commencement of the arrest operation on the day itself?

A. I think that on the morning I embarked on around the units, and I am sure I called in on 1 Para then, and would have seen him then, and not had – I would have merely said ‘Everything all right? Anything I can do to help?’, that type of thing.

Q. Would you, on that occasion, have had any discussion with him about the details of his plans for the arrest force?

A. I do not think so. If I did, I do not remember.”


1 Day 262/13

9.598 In the light of this evidence it seems to us that the details of Colonel Wilford’s plans for the arrest operation were not discussed at the co-ordinating conference. Most of the evidence is to this effect. Insofar as Colonel Steele’s evidence in this regard differs, we do not rely on it.

9.599 We are not persuaded that there should have been a detailed discussion at the co-ordinating conference. Colonel Wilford had been given the scoop-up task. He did not at that stage know how best to conduct the arrest operation because the circumstances in which arrests were to be attempted were not then known. There would have been no purpose at the co-ordinating conference in the officers trying to lay out any geographical limitation because they did not know where the trouble was likely to occur or whether the circumstances in which such trouble occurred would enable an effective arrest operation to take place. We have no criticism of Brigadier MacLellan in this regard. He could in our view properly leave the reconnaissance and preliminary planning to the Commanding Officer of 1 PARA, who was a senior officer and who could reasonably be expected to know his job. Brigadier MacLellan was entitled to assume that Colonel Wilford would deploy his soldiers in the areas of likely trouble identified in the Operation Order. Furthermore, since the Brigadier had reserved to himself the right to launch any arrest operation, he could have confidence that, at the time at which he came to give any order, he would know the situation on the ground and the precise location and plans of 1 PARA.

9.600 However, it does seem to us that Colonel Wilford should at some stage have discussed the arrest operation and his plans, albeit inchoate, for this operation with local commanders. Had he done so it seems to us that he would be likely to have learned of the difficulties in moving troops quickly through the Presbyterian church route. He might also have learned more about the agility of the rioters and the difficulty of trapping them.

The need for separation of marchers and rioters

9.601 Paragraph 9(f)(1)(a) of the Order for Operation Forecast provided for the arrest or scoop-up operation: “This operation will only to be launched, either in whole or in part, on the orders of the Bde Comd.”1

1 G95.570
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

Post  Guest on Wed 16 Jun - 11:22

9.602 Brigadier MacLellan told the Widgery Inquiry:1

“My intention throughout was to do everything to reduce the risk to the absolute minimum to the non-violent marchers and, to this end, I certainly was not prepared to launch the arrest operation unless there was serious disorder and rioting and, indeed, we had gone up the scale and, furthermore, I would only then do it if the rioters and the non-violent demonstrators were widely separated.”


1 WT11.8

9.603 There was no reference in the Operation Order to the need for marchers and rioters to be separated before the launch of any arrest operation. In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Steele gave the following explanation:1

“I think it is because separation was entirely a matter for the Brigadier to decide. He is the person who had retained, to his right, the deployment of the force and in his mind he had – was quite clear that he was not going to launch it unless there was separation. And so this is not something that one would expect to see in the operation order; this is something that was the Brigade Commander’s remit and I think it was

quite right that it was not necessary to have it – to have a paragraph about it in the operation order, but that on the other hand it was perfectly correct that he should have emphasised it at the co-ordinating conference, which he did.”


1 Day 266/82-83

9.604 There was no reference in Brigadier MacLellan’s notes for the co-ordinating conference to the need for separation. He was asked about this omission by Counsel to the Inquiry:1

“Q. … Do you recall whether there was any discussion at the co-ordinating conference as to the circumstances in which the arrest operation would be carried out?

A. Well, I think first that these notes were really an aide-memoire, so it was quite a long thing and it was to see that I did not miss anything critical out, but I am pretty certain, I am almost sure that I talked about separation and that on no account were people to get mixed up with the marchers and so on.

Q. The brigade major in his statement to this Tribunal also believes that you referred to separation but one thing that strikes the reader is that both in the operation order itself and in these notes for the co-ordinating conference, there is no reference to separation; do you know why that is?

A. Yes, I do. The point is that this operation order was to other people. I had reserved the right to myself to give – that no moves are to be made until I gave the order for the arrest operation to take place. So as separation was my decision it would have been giving orders to myself, so to speak.”


1 Day 261/75-76

9.605 Colonel Jackson gave evidence to this Inquiry on the question of whether separation was discussed at the co-ordinating conference. When first asked, he said that he had no particular recollection of it having been mentioned but added that it was a standard operating procedure for the Army to ensure that hooligans and peaceful people were separated before an arrest operation was launched.1 However, later in his evidence, he said that he thought that there had been some reference at the co-ordinating conference to the need for separation.2

1 Day 285/41-42 2 Day 286/81

9.606 Colonel Ferguson could not recall any discussions about the arrest operation although he said that they might have taken place. In notes that he made shortly after the conference he wrote the words “isolate-hooligans” and speculated that this referred to a discussion on separation.1 Colonel Welsh could not recall much of what was said at the conference.2

1 Day 281/93-94; Day 281/97; B1122.49 2 Day 282/22

9.607 Colonel Steele was certain that Brigadier MacLellan had discussed at the co-ordinating conference the need for separation. He was also sure that at that conference the Brigadier had ordered Colonel Welsh to act on the day as an observer from a helicopter, informing 8th Infantry Brigade from his vantage point above the march whether or not separation of marchers and hooligans had taken place.1

1 B1315.004-006; Day 266/84-85

9.608 Colonel Steele’s recollection about the tasking of Colonel Welsh seems to us to be wrong. There was no reference in the Operation Order or in Brigadier MacLellan’s conference notes to the deployment of an observer in a helicopter to report on separation, and though paragraph 9(j)(1) of the Order called for “one sioux [helicopter] … to be [available] for City recce under Bde HQ con”1this might well have been the helicopter used to make an aerial photographic record of the event. Brigadier MacLellan, in his draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, said that it was on the morning of the march that he had instructed Colonel Welsh to act as a helicopter observer.2 Colonel Welsh’s written statement for and oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry confirmed this timing.3 Although by the time that he came to give evidence to this Inquiry Colonel Welsh thought that he had been given the task at the co-ordinating conference, he believed that his account in 1972 was the accurate one.4

1 G95.570 3 B1334; WT10.54

2 B1232 4 Day 282/23

9.609 Colonel Wilford was asked in his oral evidence about the need for separation before the launch of an arrest operation:1

“Q. Were you aware that Brigadier MacLellan attached importance to there being a clear separation between rioters and marchers so that any arrest force would engage with rioters and not peaceful civilians?

A. No, but it seems – it seems a reasonable thing.

Q. But you were not aware that that was a matter to which he attached importance?

A. I do not recall that I was.”


1 Day 312/60

9.610 We found the evidence of Brigadier MacLellan to be convincing on this point. We accept that there was no reason for Brigadier MacLellan to say at the conference that there was to be no arrest operation if marchers were mixed up with rioters; it was for him to give the order for the arrest operation to take place. In our view there was no detailed discussion about separation, though it remains possible that Brigadier MacLellan said something to the effect that soldiers should not get mixed up with non-rioting marchers.

9.611 Our views on this aspect of the evidence clearly involve our rejection of Colonel Steele’s evidence. It was submitted to us on behalf of some of the families that Colonel Steele committed perjury when giving evidence on this topic.1 We are not persuaded that he did so. It seems to us that he had genuinely come to believe that which he was telling us. His recollection of events was simply at fault in this respect.

1 FS1.834; FR1.417

Consideration of separation by Brigadier MacLellan

9.612 It was submitted to us on behalf of some of the families1 that separation was never a part of the planning process or, alternatively, was an afterthought on the part of Brigadier MacLellan.

1 FS1.818; FR1.405

9.613 On behalf of Brigadier MacLellan it was submitted that the need for separation was clearly in the Brigadier’s mind by the morning of 30th January 1972. At that time, it was submitted, when he instructed Colonel Welsh to act as a helicopter observer, he made it clear that 8th Infantry Brigade was to be informed if and when the separation of rioters and marchers occurred; and that this is apparent from Colonel Welsh’s draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, in which he recorded:1

“Before I took off I had an informal briefing from the Brigade Commander. I knew that 1 Para were to mount a snatch operation if a riot situation developed, and if the circumstances made it possible. I was briefed to inform Brigade Headquarters, should a riot situation develop, when the main body of marchers had separated from the rioters. If a riot situation developes one often faces great difficulty in splitting the rioters from spectators. Information on this point was therefore of importance to Brigade Headquarters. I had no knowledge of any detailed orders given to 1 Para or any other possible snatch unit. I assumed that if an adequate separation occurred, a snatch operation might be mounted.”


1 B1334

9.614 It was submitted on the Brigadier’s behalf that as long as separation was recognised as important before the arrest operation was launched, then when it was so recognised does not matter.1

1 FS7.787n.52

9.615 We are of the view that separation was not an afterthought on the part of Brigadier MacLellan. We reject any suggestion that Brigadier MacLellan gave separation no thought or did not care whether separation took place.

9.616 We are satisfied that Brigadier MacLellan did have separation in mind as a prime consideration at the time of the co-ordinating conference. In our view he was not particularly keen on the proposed arrest operation and did not want peaceful civil rights marchers caught up in an arrest operation.

The adequacy of the arrangements for the monitoring of separation

9.617 It was submitted on behalf of some of the families1 that the arrangements for monitoring separation were inadequate. As evidence of such inadequacy the families relied on Colonel Wilford’s brief reference to separation, the failure to utilise established Observation Posts on the City Walls or the Embassy Ballroom, and on the fact that Colonel Welsh was not a “trained observer” and was not briefed on the proposed location of the arrest operation.

1 FS1.835

9.618 We are not persuaded that these matters were shortcomings or that they affected the ability of Brigadier MacLellan to determine separation. Although there was evidence that the Walls and the Embassy Ballroom would have permitted soldiers to monitor separation, the photographic evidence indicates that buildings would sometimes, if not often, obstruct views from those positions. Colonel Welsh was not a “trained observer”, but he was the commander of a local battalion who would bring both experience and judgement to his assigned task.

9.619 Separation may not have been considered formally as part of the planning process because it was felt that there was no need for a plan to deal with monitoring separation. We consider that the deployment of the helicopter with a senior experienced officer, coupled with the order that the arrest operation should be launched only if authorised by the Brigadier, was an adequate method of monitoring separation and of ensuring that innocent marchers were not caught up in an operation to arrest rioters.

9.620 We are satisfied that, in the planning stages, separation of rioters and marchers was adequately considered. We return later in this report1 to the question of whether this factor was properly considered on the day itself.

1 Chapter 20

Other aspects of the co-ordinating conference

The draft Insight article

9.621 After 30th January 1972 the Sunday Times Insight Team began work on an article about the events of the day. The journalists Philip Jacobson and Peter Pringle compiled a draft article which contained details apparently provided to the Sunday Times by one of those present at the co-ordinating conference. The draft included the following paragraphs:1

“Wilford, indeed, radiated confidence at this briefing session. One of those present recalled to us that while most COs had asked questions about their relatively minor roles on the day, Wilford had said little or nothing. ‘He was so quiet I was convinced he must have had a private briefing beforehand,’ we were told. (If he did, Widgery was not told.)

One of those who did raise his voice was apparently the local police chief, Lagan. He seems to have been stunned by the size of the proposed arrest operation. According to our source at the meeting, MacLellan mentioned a target of 500 arrests. Lagan asked what arrangements were being made to handle that number – to be told that that was his responsibility…

The point which never emerged at Widgery was what attitude the conference took to an operation on this scale. Our source at the meeting gave us this assessment: ‘The mood of the meeting was one of complete determination that this really big arrest operation should go through. The risk of firing was discussed and quite clearly accepted. Even if it meant shooting, everyone wanted to show that 8 Brigade knew how to go after the hooligans.’”


1 S95-97; S191-S193

9.622 No-one has admitted to having been the Insight Team’s source for this information. Those military witnesses who were asked denied having been the source. John Barry, the editor of the Sunday Times Insight Team, assumed that it was Chief Superintendent Lagan although he had no independent recollection of the source’s identity.1 Chief Superintendent Lagan did not deal with the Sunday Times material in his statement to this Inquiry and subsequently became too unwell to give oral evidence or to be asked about it.

1 Day 193/171

9.623 Brigadier MacLellan’s recollection was that the figure of 500 arrests was never mentioned; General Ford’s initial figure had been 300–400 but the Brigadier had expected far fewer. He did not think that he had quantified the number of arrests for which he had hoped.1 He thought that the source had exaggerated the mood of the meeting and added:2

“… clearly if people are being ordered to … contain the march, and if it became inevitable to have an arrest operation, they were going to do it as well as they could.”
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1 Day 262/9 2 Day 262/10

9.624 Colonel Steele described the Sunday Times draft as “totally wrong”. He went on to say:1

“… the Brigadier and I had already agreed between us that a figure of 3 to 400 arrests was ridiculous and so to suggest that he would then have mentioned a target of 500 arrests at the co-ordinating conference is just rubbish.”


1 Day 266/87

9.625 He was asked whether there was a discussion at the co-ordinating conference of the possibility of shooting and replied:1

“No, there was not … There was no question of – there was no discussion on the risk of firing as far as I remember it. What did come through at the co-ordinating meeting very clearly, in my mind, was that the whole march was going to be run in the lowest possible key in the hope that there would be no rioting and that the whole thing would go off perfectly peacefully.

Shooting was the very last thing that was in anybody’s mind.”


1 Day 266/88

9.626 Colonel Wilford told this Inquiry that he did not recall being very quiet at the co-ordinating conference1 and that he did not remember the mood of the meeting.2

1 Day 312/34 2 Day 312/35

9.627 Colonel Jackson said that he did recall Colonel Wilford being particularly quiet.1 He also recalled a large figure being mentioned as the target for the number of arrests although he said that he could not recall whether the number was 300 or 400. He said that those present at the meeting had just accepted the figure put forward as “pie in the sky”.2 Despite the correlation between the information in the draft and his recollection, he said that he did not believe that he was the source of the information. He said that he had spoken to no journalists between 30th January and 14th March 1972, when he had left Londonderry. He explained that he had expected to be called as a witness before the Widgery Inquiry and so had not spoken to anyone about the events of the day.3

1 Day 285/43 3 Day 285/42-44

2 Day 285/46

9.628 Colonel INQ 598 denied that there was at the meeting a sense of determination that a big arrest operation should be carried out. He went on to say:1

“I think there was a determination to keep the peace while the illegal march took place. In other words, we hoped that there would be no misbehaviour and if there was not any misbehaviour, there was not going to be a scoop-up operation. But we had our doubts as to whether we were going to get to that stage.”


1 Day 272/6

9.629 Major INQ 1900 described the flavour of the meeting as being “one of calm professionalism”.1 He said that:2

“… the mood of the meeting was that we should successfully contain, with minimum force, the march that was planned.”


1 Day 241/16 2 Day 241/28

9.630 He also said that he did not believe that the risk of firing was discussed and accepted at the conference and that he did not agree with the source’s suggestion that “everyone wanted to show that 8 Brigade knew how to go after the hooligans”, even if that involved shooting.1

1 Day 241/28

9.631 Colonel Welsh had a limited recollection of the meeting but said that he would be very surprised if the source’s description of the mood of the meeting were correct.1

1 Day 282/32

9.632 Captain INQ 1803, the Brigade Intelligence and Security Officer, told this Inquiry:1

“… there was a determination to make sure that the march as such could not go into the city area, the sort of central city area, Waterloo Place and so on, but I do not have any sort of impression that a major arrest operation was an essential ingredient of the whole plan.”


1 Day 293/33-34

9.633 Colonel Ferguson’s evidence to this Inquiry was that he could not recall any discussion about the proposed number of arrests. When asked about the suggestion in the draft article that 8th Infantry Brigade wanted to show that it could tackle hooligans, even at the risk of shooting, Colonel Ferguson said:1

“… I am sure in people’s minds – and certainly in my mind – that perhaps we were pleased to see that we were being given significant reinforcements in order to do something positive, particularly if there was hooliganism after the march. But the way it is written … I mean there was no such expression of opinion at the orders group.”


1 Day 281/56-57

9.634 Colonel Ferguson suggested that the description in the draft article of the discussion of the risk of firing might be an inaccurate reference to a topic that he had raised at the co-ordinating conference.1 In his written statement to this Inquiry he gave the following account of this issue, which he said that he had raised at the end of the meeting:2

“… in view of the situation in Londonderry at that time, I thought it was likely that at some stage during the proceedings there would be shooting. In these circumstances, and in a built up area, it would be very difficult for individual soldiers to know who was shooting and from where. One shot was all that it might take for everyone to believe that they were coming under fire. It, therefore, seemed sensible to me to ask if there were any plans to modify the rules of engagement. By that, I meant the rules of engagement being modified downwards, perhaps to the extent that at the outset, decisions to open fire would be reserved to officers. I did not develop this idea in my question but this was what I had in mind. The response to my question was negative.”


1 Day 281/56 2 B1122.11-12

9.635 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Ferguson gave additional details on the sort of shooting that he had had in mind and said that he had believed such shooting to be a “possibility”:1

“In my mind I am pretty certain of this, was that there always had been extremists in Irish politics, on both sides of the political divide, who might not be under control of their various organisations, who might well just take the occasion to come out and take a pot-shot at someone. That was what I mean, it was the sort of situation I envisaged might occur. Someone either deliberately doing it in order to create a difficult association [sic] or just someone having a shot, and this could have been either someone from the Unionist organisations or from the IRA.

… though elements of the civil rights organisation and the IRA might have similar long-term objectives i.e. the creation of a Republic of all Ireland, it would have seemed to me that it was not in the interest of that general objective for the IRA to be involved at all. It was, in fact, against their interests because they would be, as it were, taking away from the legitimacy … of the civil rights organisation who were, after all, protesting against internment. So I suppose that was why I thought that the two things would be separate and it would not be in the IRA’s interest to be involved. That is why I said at the beginning that the image in my mind was the renegade, perhaps old-fashioned, Official IRA man just coming out to have a pot-shot at someone.”


1 Day 281/49-51

9.636 Colonel Ferguson may be right in his recollection, but none of those who were present at the conference and were asked about it (Colonel Jackson, Colonel Welsh and Captain INQ 1803) recalled him saying anything about modifying the rules of engagement.1

1 Day 287/7; Day 282/29; Day 293/31-32

9.637 We cannot determine the identity of the source for the draft Sunday Times article. There is no evidence that would enable us to do so. Further, we are not persuaded that the source provided an accurate account to the Sunday Times Insight Team. It seems unlikely to us that Brigadier MacLellan would have mentioned a target of 500 arrests. The report that “Even if it meant shooting, everyone wanted to show that 8 Infantry Brigade knew how to go after the hooligans”1 is particularly surprising, because we know that the local commanders of 8th Infantry Brigade were upset that they were not allowed to go after hooligans and that 1 PARA were doing the job instead. We find that the meeting, far from being concentrated on the arrest operation, was in the main devoted to the need for the handling of the march to be as low key as possible. We regarded John Barry as an impressive witness but believe that the source provided the Insight Team with a distorted account.

1 Day 281/55

Lieutenant Colonel Wilford’s interview with Peter Taylor

9.638 In 1991, the journalist Peter Taylor began work on a programme entitled Remember Bloody Sunday. The film was compiled to mark the 20th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and was broadcast as a Channel 4 Inside Story Special on 28th January 1992.

9.639 Colonel Wilford gave an interview to Peter Taylor for the purposes of the programme. In his interview, Colonel Wilford claimed that he had asked, “What happens if there is shooting?” and had received a “very sparse reply to the effect that – ‘Oh well we’ll deal with that when it comes’.”1 Colonel Wilford went on to say to Peter Taylor:2

“It’s my greatest regret that I didn’t actually pursue that question and say ‘right you know what – what do you want us to do if we’re shot at?’”


1 X1.9.15 2 X1.9.16

9.640 Neither Brigadier MacLellan nor Colonel Steele, in their evidence to this Inquiry, recalled Colonel Wilford asking such a question. Both said they thought that it was clear that the Yellow Card governed such situations.1

1 Day 262/3; Day 267/2

9.641 In an interview in 1997 for Channel 4 News Colonel Wilford gave a similar account, although he then said that when he had asked at the co-ordinating conference, “if this arrest operation turns into a shooting match, what do we do then?” his question was dismissed and he was given the reply, “Oh well, that completely changes the situation.”1

1 X1.35.11

9.642 In his first draft statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Colonel Wilford said that he had attended the co-ordinating conference and that it had been stated there that “If firing was directed at the troops the situation would demand counter action as necessary”.1 In his evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Wilford told us that the exchange that he had reported to Peter Taylor had clearly not taken place.2 He said that he had perhaps given the account after reflecting over the years on “what might have been”.3

1 B945 3 Day 312/30

2 Day 312/30

9.643 In his 1997 Channel 4 interview, Colonel Wilford also said:1

“At the briefing that we all got I was very, I was disturbed because I felt that the Brigade, and the people in that Brigade – that is the soldiers and the RUC, I may say – who were up there in Londonderry were not, were not at all happy about what we were being asked to do. I just felt that there was a pacifist sort of attitude, but this perhaps was born of something which I wasn’t aware of, you know. If you have a policy you actually eventually of course take on the colour of that policy, whether it’s the soldiers or policemen, and this might have been it. But it was an unhappy experience. Right from the very beginning, I felt that, that they didn’t want to do what they were being asked to do.”


1 X1.35.5

9.644 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Wilford said that he had spent many years thinking about the events of the day and that “these impressions perhaps had grown, perhaps ridiculously, out of proportion” in his mind. He said that he had certainly not had in January 1972 the thoughts that he later reported to Channel 4.1 Although he said this, we obtained the overall impression, from the evidence of the co-ordinating conference and from Colonel Wilford’s comments over the years, that Colonel Wilford held the same view as that of General Ford – that 8th Infantry Brigade was operating in a low-key manner which was not one of which he approved.

1 Day 312/33

The aftermath of the co-ordinating conference

9.645 Both Colonel Jackson of 1 R ANGLIAN and Colonel Welsh of 2 RGJ were unhappy with the situation as it was at the end of the conference. Colonel Jackson told this Inquiry in a passage (already quoted above in part) that:1

“… nothing came out of that co-ordinating conference to say how the scoop-up operation would be carried out … nothing on that conference gave any idea of what was going to happen … it was not really explained whether this was a scoop operation or, as it happened to be in the end, was merely a frontal assault.”


1 Day 285/44-45

9.646 He was questioned further:1

“LORD SAVILLE: I follow that, but I was just reminding you the brigade order does mention the possibility the arrest operation would be mounted on these two axes here.

A. But other troops other than the Para would have been involved, and this is the co-ordination, in retrospect, that I do not think was shown. I mean, they were going through blocking positions with RGJ, 22 Light Air Defence regiment, and things like that ... I do not think, in retrospect, we were told sufficient about what the scoop-up operation was about.”


1 Day 285/45-46

9.647 As Colonel Jackson himself indicated, he was speaking with the benefit of hindsight. In our view, neither Colonel Wilford nor indeed Brigadier MacLellan can be criticised for not raising or dealing in any detail with Colonel Wilford’s proposed arrest operation. It seems to us, without using hindsight, that it was sufficient for the Brigadier to leave the arrest operation to be considered in detail by Colonel Wilford, himself a senior officer. It must be borne in mind that at this stage no arrest operation could be planned in great detail since everything depended on the circumstances in which any rioting developed on the day. However, as we have already said, it seems to us that Colonel Wilford can be criticised for not discussing the proposed arrest operation with the local senior officers. Although the exact form any operation would take would depend on how events unfolded on the day, he could, and in our view should, have discussed his provisional plan with them; and made clear that if any arrest operation took place he might well need to go through at least one of the barriers manned by the local troops at short or very short notice.

9.648 After the co-ordinating conference, Colonel Jackson had a brief meeting, at his request, with Brigadier MacLellan. The issue he raised was not one of a lack of co-ordination or information about the scoop-up operation. His concern was the choice of 1 PARA to conduct the arrest operation. He gave the following account in his first written statement to this Inquiry:1

“37. I was surprised that 1 Para had been nominated to be ‘in reserve and available for a scoop up operation to be carried out on foot’ (sic). 1 Para did not know the area and had not operated in the Bogside before. Also, everyone was aware that the Paras had a reputation for tough action and the citizens and hooligans of Londonderry would be greatly surprised if Belfast arrest procedures were carried out on them. I just wondered who had thought out this deployment: it reflected a change of policy – and emphasis – on future operations in Londonderry.

38. I cannot remember asking any questions of Brigadier MacLellan at the meeting: I could hardly wait to speak to him privately after the meeting …

39. … I cannot recall discussing the orders afterwards with Lieutenant Colonel Peter Welsh (2 RGJ) although my impression was that he was not happy about the presence of 1 Para in Londonderry on the following Sunday.

40. Immediately after the O Group, I asked Brigadier MacLellan if I could speak with him in his office. There was no-one else present and the meeting lasted a few minutes. I told him that 1 Para should not be used in Londonderry: they did not know the area and would go in blind. I said that I should be given the role of 1 Para and they could take over the blocking role allocated to 1R ANGLIAN and that this would be more acceptable all round. (As the Province Reserve battalion, the Paras had operated in all areas of the Province other than Londonderry. From my understanding, they seldom operated for any length of time as we resident battalions in Londonderry … Derry and Belfast were as different as chalk and cheese, and our job in Derry at the time was to maintain a containment line, albeit in an aggressive manner, which was so different to the role required of units in Belfast).

41. Brigadier MacLellan told me that the decision to employ 1 Para had been made ‘at the highest level’ and he was not in a position to change anything. He said ‘it was not for me to fight the case’. He gave me the strong impression that it was not his decision to use 1 Para for this operation. I understood his reference to ‘the highest level’ to mean that the decision had been taken at Government level as, in my opinion, no

military commander would place a battalion in a situation where the troops did not know the ground over which they may be required to deploy nor have knowledge of any local ‘conditions’.

42. Brigadier MacLellan was obviously in a no win situation. With his short experience of operations in Londonderry he had, in my opinion, been sat upon by those, also, with little knowledge of Londonderry. I asked that my views should be relayed immediately to HQ Northern Ireland. I do not know if this was ever done. After I left this meeting, I also spoke with the Brigade Major and told him of my conversation with Brigadier MacLellan. He sympathised but said nothing could be done to change the orders. I asked Lieutenant Colonel Steele to contact Lieutenant Colonel Wilford to say I would be available for any information or advice he may need for his operation. I do not know if Lieutenant Colonel Steele ever relayed my offer, but Lieutenant Colonel Wilford did not contact me before, on, or after 30 January 1972.”


1 CJ2.8-9

9.649 Brigadier MacLellan, in his oral evidence to this Inquiry, said that he did not recall this meeting with Colonel Jackson. He added:1

“… the way the Army works is lieutenant colonels do not question legal orders, so to speak, from superior officers. So I think I would have remembered if it had happened, but I do not remember it.”


1 Day 262/12

9.650 We consider it likely that Colonel Jackson did go to Brigadier MacLellan and that he asked that his battalion should do the arrest operation. We accept that the Brigadier probably replied that the choice of 1 PARA had been made at the highest level and that he, Brigadier MacLellan, could not change that, though by the “highest level” Brigadier MacLellan would have been referring to the decision made by General Ford. We take the view that Colonel Jackson was not questioning legal orders in the sense of disputing them; he was just asking whether his men could do the job instead of 1 PARA and suggesting that they, with their local knowledge, would be better for the job. He accepted without demur Brigadier MacLellan’s reply that this could not be done.

9.651 Colonel Steele also did not recall Colonel Jackson having spoken to him after the co-ordinating conference in the way described by the latter.1It seems to us more likely than not, although we cannot be certain, that Colonel Jackson did ask Colonel Steele to tell Colonel Wilford that he was available for any information or advice he might need for the arrest operation, and that, over the years, Colonel Steele forgot about the incident.

1 Day 268/170-171

9.652 In his statement to this Inquiry, Colonel Welsh said:1

“11. I was disappointed that my Battalion did not have a role, for we did know the ground well. We were trying to do the best we could to get on with the Catholic population and perhaps there was a feeling that the troublemakers were being dealt with in a tougher fashion in Belfast than in Derry. This may have been one of the reasons why the Parachute Regiment was brought in.



13. … I can recall that at some stage I telephoned [Brigadier MacLellan] to ask why the Royal Green Jackets could not take a more active role and his reply to me was ‘No, Peter. I have had my orders.’ I left it at that.”


1 B1340.002

9.653 In his book Provos: The IRA and Sinn Fein,1 Peter Taylor wrote:2

“Once again, One Para was to be brought in from Belfast. Not all army officers thought it a good idea, given what had happened at Magilligan the weekend before. One of the Royal Green Jackets’ senior officers had phoned the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Robert MacLellan, to say it was ‘mad’ to bring the Paras in, only to be told by the Brigadier that he had his orders and he was going to carry them out.”

1 Provos: The IRA and Sinn Fein, 1998 paperback edition, London: Bloomsbury, 1998, first published 1997
2 T234


9.654 Colonel Welsh accepted that he had given this information to Peter Taylor and said that he had done so about 20 years after the event.1 He also told this Inquiry that he would never have spoken to Brigadier MacLellan in such terms and suggested that he had exaggerated when he recounted events to Peter Taylor.2 He said that he did not think that the use of the Paras was “mad” and added:3

“I thought it possibly unwise after their behaviour at Magilligan, and anyway I wanted the job.”


1 Day 282/37 3 Day 282/38

2 Day 282/35-37

9.655 We accept that Colonel Welsh exaggerated when speaking to Peter Taylor and that he would not have spoken to Brigadier MacLellan in those terms, whatever his private view.

9.656 We believe that the primary concern expressed by Colonel Welsh to Brigadier MacLellan was, as he indicated in his statement to this Inquiry,1 that his own battalion did not have a greater role. His dissatisfaction that the arrest role had been given to 1 PARA and not to his battalion is reflected in the evidence of Colonel Ramsbotham, who said:2

“… I think – and the background to this too – 2 RGJ had been operating in Londonderry for some time and I think, inevitably, if you are in a place and you feel you know it and there is a difficult task coming up, then you naturally would like to be given that task and I think the people in Londonderry, if it had been possible, would have liked to have been able to do all this themselves, but it was not possible, because they just were too few.”


1 B1340.002 2 Day 254/123

9.657 Colonel Ferguson said in his oral evidence to this Inquiry that he knew that Colonel Welsh had gone to Brigadier MacLellan in order to dissuade him from using 1 PARA on 30th January 1972. He had learned of this either from Colonel Welsh or from another RGJ officer. He did not know the Brigadier’s response.1

1 Day 281/46
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

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9.658 From the foregoing evidence, we have concluded that there was uneasiness at the co-ordinating conference, although it was not expressed openly, about the use of 1 PARA as the arrest force. It arose for a number of reasons: the reputation of 1 PARA as a hard force; the difference in Army tactics between Londonderry and Belfast; the altercation involving C Company of 1 PARA the previous week at Magilligan Strand; the natural desire of the resident battalions to have the task; resentment that an outside force was being brought in; and, perhaps, the nomination of the arrest force by General Ford at HQNI.

Receipt of further intelligence on 28th January 1972

9.659 We have made reference above to the note made on 31st January 1972 by Julian, the Security Service officer, summarising the information given to him by Observer C on 26th January. In paragraph 8 of that note Julian wrote:1

“8. On Friday, 28th January Observer D telephoned to say that the 30th Jan march was to start at 14.00 hours and that many outsiders were expected to attend, including a number from the Falls and Ardoyne districts of Belfast. They were leaving from these areas at 10.00 by bus. He also mentioned that the names of three other people expected to speak at the meeting were a Padre from Trinity College, Dublin; Margo Collins from Newry and Ivan Cooper.”


1 KJ4.70

9.660 Brigadier MacLellan’s notes for the co-ordinating conference referred to “Contingents from Belfast” and recorded:1

“Likely considerable number of buses and private cars from throughout Province for Meeting.”


1 G88.538

9.661 The reference to “Contingents from Belfast” may indicate that this intelligence was received before the co-ordinating conference took place, but we are not sure whether this was the case.

The Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary statement

9.662 On 28th January 1972 a joint Army and RUC statement was drawn up for release the following morning. This warned of the illegality and dangers of the proposed march and incorporated some of the suggestions contained in the telegram sent from Donald Maitland to Clifford Hill earlier that day.1The statement was as follows:2

“In Northern Ireland there is now a Government ban on all marches and the Security Forces have a duty to take action against those who set out to break the law. The Police have brought prosecutions against persons identified as organisers or taking part in such marches. Since Christmas fourteen summonses have been issued and a further seventy prosecutions are under consideration. In carrying out their duty the Security Forces are concerned to avoid or reduce to an absolute minimum the consequences of any violence that may erupt from the confrontation between sections of the community or between the Security Forces and those taking part, in illegal march. The Security Forces choose the time and the place at which to intervene and its policy, which is clearly in the public interest allows the possibility that marches may in some cases proceed for some distance before being stopped. This does not however, mean that participants will be allowed to break the law with impunity. Experience this year has already shown that attempted marches often end in violence that must have been foreseen by the organisers, and clearly the responsibility for this violence and the consequences of it must rest fairly and squarely on the shoulders of those who encourage people to break the law.”


1 G93.556 2 G103.620

Battalion Orders Groups

9.663 Following the co-ordinating conference, the battalions each held their own Orders Groups.

9.664 The Orders Group of 22 Lt AD Regt was held at 1830 hours on Friday 28th January 1972. It was probably attended by the Commanders of 53 Battery and 11 Battery of 22 Lt AD Regt and also by the Commanders of D Company of 1 PARA and A Company of 2 RGJ, since the latter two of these companies were to be under the command of 22 Lt AD Regt on the day of the march.1 The second in command, together with Captain INQ 406, the 22 Lt AD Regt Operations Officer, compiled Confirmatory Notes, which summarised the orders given by Colonel Ferguson at that Orders Group.2 These notes have survived.3

1 Day 274/20 3 G89.540

2 Day 274/19

9.665 The Confirmatory Notes include the following entries:1

“1. GEN SIT As given verbally by CO incl particularly:

a. Emphasis on low key throughout.

b. Media will be out in force and looking for contentious material

c. Outcome of this weekend could have very long term effects on the campaign.

d. The threat from hooligans, gunmen, bombers and arsonists remains unchanged.

e. Propaganda war.

2. MISSION To contain any march on 30 Jan, together with any accompanying rioting, within the Bogside and Creggan areas of the City within the regt bdrys.

3. EXECUTION



b.(2) Dispersal of marchers

(a) [Illegible]

(b) Initial low key

(c) Crowd must be given time to react.

(d) Security Forces to take no action against marchers until:

i. Attempt is made to breach blocking points.

ii. Violence against security forces takes place.”


1 G89.540

9.666 1 R ANGLIAN held its Orders Group at 1000 hours on Saturday 29th January 1972. The Confirmatory Notes of the Orders Group have again survived.1

1 G96.581

9.667 These notes also stated that the march was to be handled in as low key a manner as possible for as long as possible and that no action was to be taken against the marchers unless there were attempts to breach a blocking position or violence was offered to the security forces.1

1 G96.582

9.668 Notes for the Orders Groups of 1 CG and 2 RGJ have not survived. However, the Inquiry was able to obtain the notes of the Platoon Orders Group of 3 Platoon A Company 2 RGJ. This platoon was to be under the command of 22 Lt AD Regt on 30th January 1972 and was to man a barrier (known as Barrier 16) at Castle Gate on the eastern boundary of the Bogside. The notes were those of the Platoon Commander, Second Lieutenant 136, although his evidence was that some of the material in them might have come from his Company Commander.1

1 Day 345/87-90

9.669 The notes included the following:1

“Position of S.F. [Security Forces]:

a. General Harry has said that this march could be the most crucial event in the Ulster crisis. If the Civil Rights people start the aggro their cause will lose credibility. If we start it we’ll probably cause a major flareup all over N. Ireland.

b. S.F. must be strictly controlled. The Right behaviour is very important. NO repeat of Magilligan.

c. T.V. will be out in force looking for brutality.

d. IRA must not be allowed to make propaganda out of this.

e. Emphasis is low key.

f. A Coy 2 RGJ has the most important job in the Bde, we have been selected by Bde as the most reliable coy. The march will converge on us. We are representing the whole bloody army at this point.”


1 G95C.580.7

9.670 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Second Lieutenant 136 said that he could not recall the reason for which he had written his note about Magilligan, at which he had not been present. However, he thought it probable that his Company Commander had taken the view that the security forces had reacted harshly on the day.1

1 Day 345/88

1 PARA’s Battalion Orders Group

9.671 This took place at 1030 hours on 29th January 1972.1 It lasted until 1215 hours.2 The Orders Group was attended by:3

• Colonel Wilford

• Major Norman Nichols, the Second in Command

• Captain Mike Jackson, the Adjutant

• Major INQ 10, the Commander of A Company

• Major 221A, the Commander of C Company

• Major INQ 1350, the Commander of D Company

• Major Loden, the Commander of Support Company

• Captain 200, the Commander of Administrative Company

• Captain INQ 7, the Intelligence Officer

• Captain INQ 2033, the Signals Officer

• Captain INQ 1853, the Transport Officer

• Captain 219, the Medical Officer

• Major UNK 30, the Quartermaster

• Warrant Officer Class I INQ 2037, the Regimental Sergeant Major

• Sergeant INQ 301, the Provost Sergeant.

1 B945 3 B1110.027; B2022.001; B2216; B1283

2 B947

9.672 Colonel Wilford’s manuscript notes for the meeting have survived.1 A typed-up version is reproduced in full below:2

“1. Situation

a. Bde Op O.

b. Appreciation.

c. Bde Plan.

2. Mission. The Bn is to arrest max no of rioters.

3. Execution

a. Gen Outline. The bn is to mov to Londonderry via Drumahoe, taking up its posn in Foyle College Car Park by 1300. D Coy is det under comd 22 Lt AD Regt. If the march takes place and confrontation becomes hostile the Bn will deploy fwd to break up the rioters and make the max no of arrests. At this stage I cannot give a detailed tactical plan. I will give the coy deployment in our FUP and then give my concept of how I think the battle can go.

b. A Coy

(1) Gp Normal.

(2) FUP Springham St.

c. C Coy

(1) Gp Normal.

(2) FUP Foyle College Car Park.

d. Sp Coy

(1) Gp one pl business3 force (aslt pnrs).

(2) FUP Clarence Avenue.

e. D Coy

(1) Gp Normal.

(2) Under comd 22 Lt. Expect to have them in area Little James St.

f. RMP

(1) FUP with Tac in Foyle Car Park.

(2) Move fwd on order to area Great James Street.

g. Concept of the battle.

(1) The parade will come into contact with SF Barricades at William Street. There are two approaches.

First. From Rossville. This will cause the crowd to attempt a bypass through to Waterloo Street. In this event I would want to put a coy down the Strand into Waterloo Street and two coys in William Street from Lower Road and the Presbyterian Church.

Second. From William Street. We can take this the same way except this time putting two coys in from the Church.

You will appreciate that much will depend on the view I can get of the crowd and once you get the order to move you will have to move fast. I shall probably bring you forward in anticipation.

Minor Tactics. Speak of Derry Rioters. Background Gas & bullets.

h. Coord Instrs

(1) Timings

(a) In posn by 1300.

(b) Mov plan to Derry.

(c) Length of Op. Plan on 48 hrs.

(2) Arrest Procedure.

The arrest team of RMP with RSM and Paddy Wagon and escort with move fwd to a loc in Great James Street. Normal arrest procedure then take prisoners and documentation to Fort George or Craigavon Br (sit).

4. Logistics.

a. B’fast.

b. Main meal at Ech Drumahoe. QM and team in posn.

c. During action. Combat rats.

d. Meal fwd in evening on demand.

5. Comd & Sig

a. HQ Tac

(1) Foyle Car Park.

(2) B9 mobile.

b. Sig instrs, as issued (RSO)

MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!”

1 B968.1

2 G94.562-3
3 The typist wrote “business” in error. The word “Guinness” appears in the manuscript notes (B968.2). “Aslt pnrs” is an abbreviation for “assault pioneers”. “Coy” is an abbreviation for “Company”.


9.673 Colonel Wilford’s evidence was that he created these notes before the Orders Group and for use at it.1 He recalled having a map with him for use in explaining his plan but did not recall having any other aids.2 It does appear, though, from the written statement of Captain 200 for the Widgery Inquiry, that aerial photographs were available at the company-level Orders Groups that followed.3 Both Colonel Wilford4 and Major Loden5 confirmed to this Inquiry that the briefing given by Colonel Wilford about his plans was only in general terms.

1 Day 312/36

2 Day 312/38

3 B1984; B2001
4 Day 312/44

5 Day 342/9


9.674 In his first statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Colonel Wilford recorded that at his Orders Group he went through the Brigade Operation Order in detail to ensure that all understood “the Situation the Mission and Execution”.1 The Brigade Operation Order, under the heading “Execution”, contained the provision that the march was to be handled in as low key a manner as possible and that no action was to be taken against the marchers unless they attempted to breach blocking positions or offered violence to the security forces.2

1 B945 2 G95.567

9.675 Colonel Wilford also told the Widgery Inquiry that he had conveyed to his officers his understanding that the operation was to be “low key”.1 Major Loden, in his first statement for the Widgery Inquiry, said that he was told at the Orders Group that the battalion was to be used to arrest rioters or those who attacked the security forces but that the battalion would only be deployed when ordered. He stated, “It was clearly understood that the peaceful element of the march was to be left undist[ur]bed.”2 In his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry he said that those attending the Orders Group were told that the operation “was to be played in the lowest possible key to start off with” and “was only to get into a higher key if a riot broke out”. He then added:3

“We were quite clear that on no account were peaceful marchers to be interfered with.”


1 B1012 3 B2245

2 B2216

9.676 Major Loden, in his first statement for the Widgery Inquiry, recorded that, to his recollection, at no time was the question of opening fire discussed. However, he was of the view that the Yellow Card applied and that any discussion would only have confirmed this.1 Colonel Wilford’s oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry was unclear on this point:2

“Q. Did you yourself when you had the ‘O’ Group on the 29th January say anything about the possibility of the troops coming under fire?

A. I believed that there was a possibility that we would come under fire, yes.”


1 B2217 2 B1017

9.677 Major Loden told the Widgery Inquiry that the Rossville Flats were mentioned at the Orders Group as a place from which sniper fire might come.1

1 WT12.35

9.678 Captain 200 told the Widgery Inquiry that he had been told at a briefing of the risk that his soldiers might come under fire if they entered the Bogside.1 The briefing in question must have been either the battalion Orders Group or Major Loden’s company Orders Group which took place later on the same day. He told this Inquiry that he remembered the battalion Orders Group “reasonably well”2 and gave the following evidence about it:3

“The purpose of [the battalion Orders Group] was to allow the Commanding Officer to give an outline of what was likely to happen … It was made clear to us that due to the ongoing situation in Londonderry and in particular due to the existence of no go areas,

we were to expect IRA ambushes and were to prepare for IRA gunmen. We knew that NICRA had organised a large march and that there would be a large hooligan element. Our job was to arrest as many of these hooligans as possible. There was no exaggeration or hype.

Colonel Wilford’s briefing could only contain so much detail about deployment. In order to maintain the maximum possible flexibility the orders were not too rigid in this respect and in effect much would not be decided until we had actually arrived in Londonderry. However, Colonel Wilford’s orders were very good and very thorough, as was usually the case. We would have been fully briefed about communications, administration and timings and I would say that the briefing lasted somewhere between half an hour and an hour.”


1 WT15.48-49 3 B2022.002

2 B2022.001

9.679 The recollection of Captain Jackson, the Adjutant, was that he was told at the briefing that “some sort of violent reaction was possible, perhaps probable on the IRA’s part”.1 In his written statement to this Inquiry he told us:2

“25. There was concern about the containment line following the lines of the barricades. We believed there would be a reaction out of the IRA because we would be ‘invading their turf’ when going in for the arrest operation. We therefore had an expectation of IRA activity. There was a large ‘no go’ area and I can recall seeing maps with the so called containment line marked on them. Beyond those lines the security forces simply did not go. It was known that firefights were common in Londonderry as they were in Belfast. If I remember rightly a policeman had been shot on the Thursday before we went in.

26. We could never rule out the fact that we might be shot at – any time, any place. The IRA were good at ambushes. These could take place anywhere at any time and it would be foolhardy in the extreme to assume that you would not be shot at. It would have been foolish militarily to accept any IRA assurances that they would not be on the march, if any such assurances were given. They would say anything for their cause. It would have been foolish to have been lulled into a false sense of security. It was a fundamental principle that we had to be prepared to be attacked at any time.”


1 Day 318/16 2CJ1.3

9.680 The Regimental Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class I INQ 2037, who was the most senior non-commissioned officer of 1 PARA, gave the following evidence to this Inquiry about the information given at the battalion Orders Group:1

“3… We were told it was an illegal march and Derek Wilford highlighted that there was a ‘no go’ area in Londonderry. He also mentioned that there was a strong Republican presence. Derek Wilford was quite a mild guy and there was certainly no ‘gung ho’ talk at the briefing.

4. INQ 7 [the Intelligence Officer] was also at the briefing. He gave details about the known IRA structure in Londonderry which was well developed because it had been in place for a while. He did not say that we would come under fire but as with any high rise flats, the Rossville Flats were seen as potential sniper positions. There was always the possibility of sniper fire wherever we were in Northern Ireland. However, because the Civil Rights march was to be a big high profile crowd we thought that there would be few opportunities for fire. We knew that people such as Lord Russell of Liverpool and Bernadette Devlin were due to be there.”


1 C2037.1

9.681 Colonel Wilford’s evidence was to the effect that no indication was given to his soldiers, either at this Orders Group or at all, that they should seek to engage with or draw out the IRA.1 We accept this evidence; in our view, although he was keen on the arrest operation, there is nothing to suggest that he had in mind the idea of actively encouraging the IRA out so that his soldiers could engage them. However, this did not mean that if his soldiers came under attack from republican paramilitaries they should withdraw rather than adopt their usual response of returning fire, a matter we consider elsewhere in this report.2

1 Day 312/44-45 2 Paragraphs 171.30–36

9.682 Colonel Wilford told the Widgery Inquiry that he had explained at the Orders Group that he would watch the march from a forward position and might bring his “Company” [sic] forward early. He accepted that Brigade orders did not permit him to bring his men forward of the barriers without further order; he then said that he had “personally” taken the decision that he might need to have “one or two people forward of the line where I was to be in order to get some observation”. At that stage he had anticipated that he would be in the area of the Presbyterian church, observing events.1

1 WT11/39

9.683 In his first statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Colonel Wilford recorded that he had explained at the Orders Group that it was not really possible for him to be specific in his plans until the rioting started and so he had given a general idea of how he thought events would go. He had recognised that there were two routes that the marchers might take: one would bring them from the south along Rossville Street, with possible filters through Magazine Street and Waterloo Street, and the second would bring them from the west along William Street. He stated that he had decided that if the first route were used, then two companies would deploy from the north and one from the east in order to “pinch them out from a retreat West and South”. If the second route were used, he had anticipated that violence would spread westwards from the William Street barrier. He had decided in that case that he would put in two companies together from behind the Presbyterian church “to get the maximum impact and achieve mutual support”. He added, “I confidently expected to move the companies forward to jump off points”.1

1 B945-6

9.684 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Colonel Wilford could not recall the detail of the two alternative plans described in his notes; however, he said he was certain that he was contemplating in each case a pincer movement by his troops, involving the soldiers getting behind the rioters.1 He recalled that his original plan, assuming that the marchers came down William Street, was for one company to go through Barrier 14 and for Support Company to cut the rioters off by going over the wall of the Presbyterian church and approaching the rioters from the west.2 He said that he knew nothing of any plan to drive a Pig (an APC) through the wall of the church.3

1 Day 312/41 3 Day 312/53-54

2 Day 312/53

9.685 Colonel Wilford told this Inquiry that, if the marchers came down William Street, he had anticipated being able to get behind them by putting a company through the Presbyterian church, using a concealed route. He had thought that they would be able to reach Aggro Corner “without being seen overmuch” and cut off rioters at Barriers 12 and 14.1 The route that he had expected the soldiers to use is shown in blue on the map below. The red line shows the proposed route of soldiers coming through Barrier 14, driving the rioters towards the soldiers at the junction of Little James Street and William Street.2
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Re: Report of the The Bloody Sunday Inquiry Volume 1

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9.686 At that stage, neither Colonel Wilford nor anyone else from 1 PARA had examined the ground on foot. Colonel Wilford said that he had assumed from his observation from one of the buildings that concealed access was possible.1 In fact, it seems that any form of access along the proposed route would have been extremely difficult. We return to this matter later in this report,2 when considering the events of the day itself.

1 Day 312/44 2Chapter 12

9.687 Colonel Wilford’s oral evidence to this Inquiry was that timing and speed were of the essence for his plan to succeed. He agreed that it would be very important for the troops coming in from the west to arrive at the junction before soldiers coming through Barrier 14 had driven the rioters westwards. He said that it was his responsibility to co-ordinate the approaches of the two companies.1

1 Day 314/55

9.688 At this stage 1 PARA, like HQNI and 8th Infantry Brigade, had no detailed plan for dealing with rioters. The security forces did not and could not know how the arrests would be conducted. They could not have a detailed plan. They could only work on the basis that there were two areas in which trouble was likely. Colonel Wilford’s task was so to dispose his troops that he would have a good chance of arresting rioters in one or both of these areas or in some entirely different location.

9.689 We have referred above to Colonel Wilford’s evidence to the effect that he was unaware that it was important to Brigadier MacLellan that rioters were separated from marchers before arrests were carried out.1 None of those present at the 1 PARA battalion Orders Group who gave evidence to this Inquiry said that the need for separation was discussed. Although it is possible that, as Major Loden said in his written statement for and oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry, Colonel Wilford emphasised the need not to target innocent marchers,2 we are not convinced that this was the case.

1 Day 312/60 2 B2216; WT12/3

9.690 Although, as can be seen above, Colonel Wilford’s plan at the stage of his Orders Group was to go through the Presbyterian church, he insisted in his evidence that he had in mind using troops through Barrier 12 as an alternative. In addition, his evidence was that he did not give specific instructions about the distance that his men should cover when attempting to make arrests. He said that this was unnecessary since his troops knew that they usually worked in an area of about 200 yards square. The conduct of an arrest operation within this sort of area was, according to him, virtually a standard operating procedure.1 We consider this aspect of Colonel Wilford’s evidence in detail later in this report.2

1 Day 312/62-63 2Chapters 12 and 20

The use of vehicles

9.691 Colonel Wilford told this Inquiry that, although his initial plan had envisaged the soldiers going in on foot, he would have expected their vehicles to follow them as back up. He had no recollection, though, of having discussed this with his Company Commanders.1

1 Day 314/56

9.692 In his supplementary statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Major Loden, speaking of events at and after 1600 hours on 30th January, stated:1

“The Commanding Officer had previously told me that I might have to go out to carry out the arrest operations through any of the barriers and I had previously reconnoitred them all.

We moved in vehicles. I had expected to carry out the arrest operation from vehicles unless to do so was physically impossible, as it would have been if we had had to come through by the sides of the Presbyterian Church. We did examine whether the vehicles could be got through this way, but it could not be done.”


1 B2241

9.693 In his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry, Major Loden said:1

“… when the C.O. gave his ‘O’ Group on the Saturday before, although it was thought that the march would take place on a route, we did not know where the march would go. Nor did we know where rioting would, if it did, take place: and we were told that we could go through any of these barriers, and therefore whatever ground the operation had to take place on, it was true to say that it would be left to my discretion, but I was not particularly told that I would go down Rossville Street.”


1 WT12.35

9.694 It appears from this evidence that Colonel Wilford did not state at the Orders Group that the Brigade Order anticipated that the arrest operation would take place on foot. There was certainly no prohibition on using vehicles. Major Loden appears to have envisaged at all times that the arrest operation would take place from vehicles unless this was impossible: his oral evidence to the Widgery Inquiry was that he lined up Support Company’s vehicles at the Forming Up Position (FUP) in Clarence Avenue in the order in which he wished them to be should they come under attack.1 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Major Loden said:2

“I am afraid this issue of going in on foot was never mentioned to me as our normal operation, or modus operandi, was to operate from our vehicles.”


1 WT12.36 2 Day 345/70

9.695 Major Loden accepted that the plan to go through the Presbyterian church necessarily involved his men going on foot; however, he repeated that he had been warned that he might have to go through any barrier. According to his oral evidence to this Inquiry he had anticipated using vehicles if possible.1

1 Day 345/70-71

9.696 Captain INQ 7, the battalion Intelligence Officer, said to us that the soldiers would have been expected to go in on foot because it was difficult to manoeuvre vehicles through Army barriers and also because the soldiers deployed in the derelict buildings would not have had access to their vehicles.1 We consider later in this report2 the deployment on the day of soldiers of 1 PARA in a derelict building south of the Presbyterian church.

1 Day 292/54 2Chapter 17

9.697 We also deal in the course of this report with the expectations of those concerned on the day itself.

The details contained in Lieutenant Colonel Wilford’s orders

9.698 According to the notes of the Orders Group,1 which we have no reason to believe to be inaccurate, Colonel Wilford indicated that he would give further details at the FUPs. He accepted in his oral evidence to this Inquiry that he had not done so. He said that there had been no need for him to give further detailed tactical plans to his commanders or soldiers at the FUPs. He did not recall having given any further orders there and believed that such orders were needed only when a change of plan became necessary.2

1 G94.562 2 Day 314/50-51

9.699 He was asked about the fact that he did not at any time provide more detailed information to his subordinates about the planned operation:1

“Q. Would there have been an advantage – your own operational plan seemed to suggest it – in giving more detail to the company commanders, Major Loden and others, as to exactly what was expected of them in this arrest operation?

A. I think, I think the company commanders and the platoon commanders and the platoon sergeants and the platoon corporals were fully aware of what was required of them.

Q. Your O Group was expecting, because that is what you indicated would happen, that you would give a detailed tactical plan; you never did?

A. Because a detailed tactical plan was not possible and – or necessary at the time. Again, I must come back to this business of, if you like, a blueprint, if I can call it that. You cannot have a blueprint in this situation, and I am not using the word ‘flexibility’ as a let-out, I am just saying flexibility is something one had to have … You cannot have a blueprint for this sort of thing at all because the situation is constantly changing from moment to moment.



Q. So why had you put in your order, why had you said that you would give a detailed tactical plan:

‘I will give the company deployment in our forming-up position and then give my concept of how I think that battle can go.’

What was the purpose of putting that in your orders?

A. Because at the time I supposed, reasonably, that I may have the opportunity to give a more detailed plan of what we intended. I had to wait. There was no point in making a plan at that time at all. In fact it was impossible to make a plan at that time, one could only make a plan as the whole circumstances unfolded … The purpose was that I might find the opportunity or the situation might develop that that would be a possibility; that is all. I was not laying down a blueprint once more, I was saying, in effect, to my company commanders ‘we will deal with the situation as it develops’.

Q. But you never gave them any further detailed order?

A. No.

Q. With hindsight, was that an error?

A. No.”


1 Day 315/8-11

Company Orders Groups

9.700 Later on Saturday 29th January 1972 the Company Commanders held company Orders Groups. These were attended by the Platoon Commanders, the Company Sergeant Major and the Colour Sergeant.1

1 B2216

9.701 Major Loden’s Orders Group for Support Company commenced at 1700 or 1730 hours.1 It was attended by, among others, the Platoon Commander of each of the three Support Company platoons normally under Major Loden’s command. The three platoons were Anti-Tank Platoon, Machine Gun Platoon and Mortar Platoon. While in warfare these platoons would undertake specialist support tasks, in Northern Ireland they acted as ordinary infantry platoons.

1 WT12.3; B2212

9.702 The Commander of the Anti-Tank Platoon on 30th January 1972 was Lieutenant 119. The Commander of Machine Gun Platoon was a Sergeant, INQ 441, and the Commander of Mortar Platoon was Lieutenant N.

9.703 On 30th January 1972 Major Loden had an additional platoon, Composite Platoon, under his command. On the day this platoon was commanded by Captain 200, the Officer Commanding Administrative Company, who also attended Major Loden’s Orders Group. Composite Platoon (also known as Guinness Force) was made up of various members of Administrative Company, supplemented (as were the other platoons) by soldiers from B Company of 1 PARA. Members of Composite Platoon were all fully trained infantry soldiers but in January 1972 usually worked in administrative roles.1

1 B2022.001

9.704 In a statement made on 31st January 1972, Major Loden gave the following description of the orders that he had given:1

“MISSION. To arrest as many rioters as possible.

EXECUTION.

General Outline. The coy was to deploy into an asslt posn in Queen St, and to gain access to William St over the 6ft wall in the East of the Presbyterian Church at G[rid] R[eference] 43271706. The mor pl was to cut the wire which surmounted this wall to a height of approximately 12ft. The Anti-tk pl was warned to take up anti-sniper posns on the rooftops of houses on the South side of Gt James St.

Orders for Opening Fire. As given in the Yellow Card. (These orders, a new edition of which was issued in mid-December, were clearly understood by all soldiers. Pl comds had spelt out the differences in this new card from the previous one on issue.)”


1 B2212

9.705 It appears from this evidence that an outline plan to reach William Street by scaling the wall to the east of the church existed by the time of the Support Company Orders Group. Major Loden explained in his oral evidence to this Inquiry that (unlike Mortar Platoon and Anti-Tank Platoon) Machine Gun Platoon and Composite Platoon were not given orders because at this stage flexibility was being maintained.1

1 Day 342/18-19

9.706 In his written statement for the Widgery Inquiry, signed on 17th February 1972, Major Loden told that Inquiry that he had made it clear that arrests were only to be made if an order to make arrests were given and if rioting had taken place.1 He also stated that he had no recollection of discussing the question of opening fire. It would appear from his notes that he reminded his soldiers that this was governed by the Yellow Card.2

1 B2216 2 B2217

9.707 Lieutenant N told the Widgery Inquiry that those attending Support Company’s Orders Group were warned that they would be going into an area in which lots of gunmen had operated in the past. He said that the Rossville Flats were mentioned as a particularly dangerous spot.1 In his evidence to this Inquiry, he said that there was no detailed planning of the route that his men were to use and no plan to use a pincer movement or to cut off the rioters’ escape routes: “…that would have been a different style of operation.” He said that the plan was to gain access to the rioters and then “follow what happens”. His recollection was that the operation was to be a frontal assault in which as many rioters as possible would be arrested. According to him this remained his understanding until the time that he and his men drove into the Bogside on 30th January.2 We consider that he was correct in his recollection that no detailed plans were set out and that he was told that the intention was for as many rioters to be arrested as possible. We consider later in this report3 his evidence as to what he thought his task to be when the arrest operation was ordered.

1 WT12.60-61

2 Day 322/119-121
3 Paragraphs 20.262–264


9.708 Sergeant INQ 441 gave the following account to this Inquiry of the Support Company Orders Group:1

“Major [Loden] held the briefing, which was given to all the platoon commanders, as well as the Company Sergeant Major. I believe there were five or six of us at the briefing, which took place in Major [Loden’s] office. I do not remember much about what was said in the briefing, except that we were going to cover a civil rights march in Londonderry and we were told to watch the rooftops. The reason the briefing sticks in my mind is that it was one of the most full and thorough briefings I think I have ever been given. I believe this was primarily because we were going into a new area and we had no knowledge of the layout of the land. I believe we were shown maps and plans of the area to ensure we knew where to go and what to do on the day.”


1 C441.1

Platoon Orders Groups

9.709 Platoon Orders Groups followed the Support Company Orders Groups. Major Loden told this Inquiry that he attended part of the Orders Groups of the Anti-Tank Platoon, Machine Gun Platoon and Mortar Platoon. He moved from one group to another. He did not attend the Composite Platoon Orders Groups; this platoon was briefed by its own Officer Commanding, Captain 200, who was not usually under Major Loden’s command.1

1 Day 342/15; Day 342/19

9.710 Sergeant INQ 441 gave evidence of the briefing that he gave to his platoon members on the evening of 29th January:1

“Once [the Support Company] briefing had finished we were each told to go into the barrack room to brief our own platoons. Each platoon had its own room within the larger barrack room. I believe it was about 10pm by the time I actually started briefing my men. Major [Loden] and the Company Sergeant Major patrolled round the barrack room while the briefings were going on to ensure that full and detailed instructions were being given to each platoon. This was quite unusual.”


1 C441.2

9.711 He could not, though, recall what he had told his platoon at that briefing.1

1 Day 303/71

9.712 Captain 200 gave a briefing to members of the Composite Platoon. In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, he agreed that he would have told his men that the Rossville Flats and buildings around it were places in which IRA men could be concealed. His evidence was that he told his men that IRA shooting was possible or probable.1

1 Day 368/90-91

9.713 In his statement for the Widgery Inquiry, Corporal A, a member of Machine Gun Platoon, gave a brief description of his platoon Orders Group:1

“1. … On 29 January at 22.15 we were given an order by our platoon commander. He told us that we were to go to Londonderry the next day to do security duties in connection with the march. He showed us on a map that we were to be held in reserve and were to move forward through a built-up area to William Street ready to carry out an arrest operation. From that position we might be ordered forward to carry out arrests.

2. We were given no special orders about opening fire. We were given orders to follow the yellow card.”


1 B20.025

9.714 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Corporal A said he recalled being warned that the IRA would “hijack” the march; he said he had understood this to mean that the IRA might take over the march from the organisers and use it for their own purposes. He could not recall there being any discussion about the possibility of the soldiers coming under IRA fire but said that such a possibility always existed whenever soldiers deployed in Northern Ireland.1 He remembered the platoon having a photocopy of a small-scale “A–Z” type map of the area.2

1 Day 297/3-4 2Day 297/6

9.715 Private S, a member of Mortar Platoon, told the Widgery Inquiry that his Platoon Commander had shown the platoon a map of the area, warned the men that they would be in reserve and might have to carry out an arrest operation and said any shooting was to be governed by the rules of the Yellow Card.1

1 WT12.100-101

The allegations of Private 027

9.716 One of the members of the Anti-Tank Platoon was a soldier given the cipher 027. In 1975 Private 027 wrote an account of the events of and leading up to 30th January 1972. The account included the following passage:1

“One night in January 1972 I was sitting with the rest of my ‘muckers’ of the Anti-Tank Platoon in the Barracks when our Lt. [119] came in and informed us that we were due for an operation in Londonderry the following day. He said that the heart of Derry had been bombed out. Several hundred soldiers had been hospitalised and that not one arrest had been made … We knew that the Creggan Estate was an I.R.A. fortress, conning towers, machine guns and barbed wire as well as land mines guarding its approaches. The people of the Creggan had not paid rent and had high-jacked all their food for several years. This was the symbol which led to the name ‘no go area’.

As I looked at my friends I could see that after all the abuse and nights without sleep, frustration and tension, this is what they had been waiting for. We were all in high spirits and when our Lt. said ‘let’s teach these buggers a lesson – we want some kills tomorrow’, to the mentality of the blokes to whom he was speaking, this was tantamount to an order i.e. an exoneration of all responsibility.”


1 B1565.003

9.717 In his written evidence to this Inquiry, Private 027 told us:1

“57. … I have a clear memory of my section, the seven or eight of us, being in barracks in our denims and tee shirts. Our Platoon Lieutenant came in, whose identity I cannot now recall. It was not a formal briefing, it was more in the manner of a group chat. The lieutenant stood and we sat, as we had a discussion about Derry…

58. I cannot remember precisely all that was said at that briefing, but I do remember the remarks revolving around the possibility of getting kills the following day. I cannot now remember whether these events were first voiced by the Lieutenant, but I do remember the comment being repeated by the soldier sitting next to me to my left. I have a clear memory of him nodding his head in acknowledgment and repeating what was said, as if he had made his mind up. Because he was the first individual I noticed from our Platoon who fired a shot on the day, the memory of his reaction during the discussion the previous evening stayed in my memory. That individual, from my personal point of view, was more than any other individual responsible for instigating and perpetuating what occurred on Bloody Sunday.



62. To us, at the briefing, the march was a gathering of IRA supporters, the enemy in a no go area. If there was a problem, we were to go in and arrest people …The prospect of going to Derry was regarded with some relish. There was the anticipation that we would be given the opportunity to confront the enemy.”


1 B1565.035-36

9.718 Private 027 told this Inquiry that the soldier sitting next to him, and to whom he was referring in that passage, was Lance Corporal F.1

1 Day 246/26-27

9.719 In his written statement to this Inquiry, Private 027 also told us:1

“65. The comment ‘we want some kills tomorrow’ needs to be put into the context in which it was made. We were going into the Bogside, a no go area, a piece of British territory that had been taken over by terrorists. We were told to be prepared for any eventuality and there was a strong suspicion that we would encounter gunmen …

66. … There were men out there who were trying to kill us with all the ingenuity they had available. When there was talk about wanting some kills tomorrow it was said against that background. I am clear in my mind that what was meant was that if we confronted gunmen, we would come out on top. As soldiers preparing themselves to go into a lethal confrontation, it would be absurd to expect that we would have thought differently.”


1 B1565.036

9.720 Lieutenant 119’s evidence to this Inquiry was that he could not recall the Support Company briefing given by Major Loden nor having given any briefing to the members of his platoon.1 He dealt in his written statement to this Inquiry with Private 027’s initial allegation:2

“I have been specifically asked whether I remember going to the platoon room prior to our deployment to Londonderry when the men were standing around in their vests and trousers and briefing them about the coming march in Londonderry. I have no recollection of that. I have been asked whether on such an occasion, or at any time, I said to my platoon words along the line of, ‘let’s teach those buggers a lesson – we want some kills tomorrow’. An alternative suggestion, which I understand is now offered by Private 027, is that I said something along the lines that the march would consist of 15000 people who were all essentially terrorists and that we should take great care not to let them get us before we got them. I utterly refute either version. I would not have said any such things as they do not reflect how I felt then or now. In addition, they would have suggested a breaking of the Yellow Card and possibly even a criminal offence.”


1 B1752.011 2B1752.012

9.721 In his oral evidence to this Inquiry, Lieutenant 119 added that he recalled no feeling within his platoon or within 1 PARA that the hooligans in Londonderry should be taught a lesson1 or that this was an opportunity for the Paras to engage gunmen within the IRA den that was the Bogside.2 He agreed that there might have been discussion about the possibility that the Paras would engage gunmen and of the need for the Paras to come out on top if that happened.3

1 Day 363/107 3 Day 363/110

2 Day 363/110

9.722 Major Loden, who attended part of Lieutenant 119’s Orders Group, told this Inquiry that he did not hear Lieutenant 119 or anyone else, at any Orders Group, say that 1 PARA should “get some kills” on 30th January 1972.1

1 Day 342/19

9.723 Lance Corporal F’s evidence was that he did not recall a briefing. He went on:1

“I don’t recall [Lieutenant 119] saying [‘let’s teach these buggers a lesson – we want some kills tomorrow’] and there’s no way that he would have. It was not his nature; he did not have that type of mentality.”


1 B167.002

9.724 Lance Corporal F, in his oral evidence to this Inquiry, denied that he had behaved at the briefing in the way suggested by Private 027.1

1 Day 375/63-64

9.725 There are difficulties with Private 027’s evidence as a whole, to which we draw attention elsewhere in this report.1 Because of this, we take the view that we should treat his accounts with caution, unless supported by other reliable testimony. In the present instance, as also appears later in this report, we also have doubts about much of the evidence given by Lieutenant 119 and Lance Corporal F. In these circumstances, we have not found it possible to decide whether or not Lieutenant 119 did say anything more than that there was a risk that the soldiers would come up against gunmen and for the soldiers to come out on top if that happened
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