The brother of a Bloody Sunday victim today angrily denied an allegation that he passed on a threat from the Provisional IRA to a man forced to flee Derry.
Liam Wray, in a statement to the Saville Inquiry, described the claim by former Liverpool councillor Paul Mahon as a “complete lie and a deliberate attempt to blacken my name”.
Mr Mahon alleged in his statement that Mr Wray had indicated in a Co Donegal pub that the Provos had issued a direct threat to his life.
It followed a threat made by the Official IRA after the publication in a Belfast newspaper of a report that concluded that the British army fired in response to a shot from the Bogside on Bloody Sunday.
Mr Mahon, who had worked as a researcher for a firm of solicitors representing two of the wounded, had written a document that had been submitted to the Saville Inquiry by the firm in December 1999.
He said that after details of the document were published in the press he was subjected to “vilification and threat”.
Mr Wray, whose brother Jim was one of the 13 unarmed civilians shot dead by members of the Parachute Regiment on January 30, 1972, said that he had been asked by Mr Mahon to meet him in the pub.
He said that Mr Mahon told him of the threats and he advised him to report the matter to the police.
“I do not know if he ever followed my advice about contacting the gardaí and the RUC but would ask the Inquiry to ascertain from those police forces whether Paul Mahon ever made any report to them,” he stated.
“I believe I am entitled to know if he told them that I had conveyed any threat to him from the PIRA or confirmed that I had any knowledge of the existence of such a threat.”
Mr Wray said he was deeply upset at how the allegation by Mr Mahon had been handled by the Inquiry.
“This has placed me in the invidious position of having to deny a baseless allegation which should never have been made public.
“I believe that, whatever happens now, my personal safety and that of my wife and family have been irretrievably compromised.”
Mr Mahon, on the second day of giving evidence, described Mr Wray’s statement as a “pack of lies”.
He said that Mr Wray had turned up at the pub and told him that two members of the Provisional IRA, who had given him information about a shot fired by an Official IRA gunman, were concerned they were going to get the blame for speaking to him.
Asked if he interpreted this as a direct threat from the Provos, he replied: “It was a threat … I would not have thought that the Provisional IRA would send Liam Wray as a messenger.”
Mr Mahon, who worked as a researcher for Brendan Kearney, Kelly and Co (BKK) a firm of solicitors representing two of the wounded on Bloody Sunday said he was chased out of Derry after he concluded that the Official IRA had fired the first shot.
He had worked on a document which was submitted by BKK to the Saville Inquiry, which stated that soldiers had responded to an incoming shot from the Bogside.
He told the Inquiry said that after details of the document appeared in a Belfast newspaper in January 2000 he was informed by Brendan Kearney that threats had been made against him.
“Brendan Kearney came to see me at about 7pm in the office. He told me that the boys or a person who had been of a paramilitary nature had made serious threats against me and that he was taking the threats extremely seriously.
Mr Mahon said he believed the person who made the threat was ‘Red Mickey’ Doherty, who was wounded in the Barrack Street area of Derry after the Bloody Sunday shootings.
Doherty, a well known Official IRA member in the city, died last year.
Mr Mahon said in his statement to the Inquiry that his sources had identified the gunman who had fired the shot at the British army as a former paramilitary known as OIRA1.
OIRA1, who gave evidence to the Inquiry late last year, confirmed he fired a single shot from a flat in Columbcille Court, but this was after soldiers had already wounded two people, Damien Donaghy and John Johnston.
Mr Mahon, a member of a prominent political family in Merseyside, said he became interested in Bloody Sunday when studying for a degree in contemporary political studies in the mid 1990’s.
At the time of Bloody Sunday, he had joined the Liberal Party in Liverpool and was elected to the city council in 1973.
In 1974 and 1979 he stood as the Liberal candidate for Parliament for Liverpool Kirkdale.
He told the inquiry that he chose Bloody Sunday as the subject of his dissertation and began conducting interviews with civilians and later members of the Provisional IRA.