Bloody Sunday witness ordered from stand

The chairman of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal today angrily ordered a witness to leave after he refused to co-operate with lawyers.

The chairman of the Bloody Sunday Tribunal today angrily ordered a witness to leave after he refused to co-operate with lawyers.

Lord Saville told Charles Canning he could go after he failed to take the oath or to answer questions about the January 1972 shootings.

After he ignored a plea from a lawyer representing most of the relatives of victims, Lord Saville immediately adjourned proceedings.

“I do not think Mr Canning is going to be able to help anybody in this room. You can go away Mr Canning,” he said.

Arthur Harvey QC, who was invited by Lord Saville to address Mr Canning, said “his attitude was a gross disappointment”.

“The attitude is of no assistance to us in the search for truth and unfortunately if the witness is to persist then he seeks to negate in his own small personal way the search for the truth.”

Mr Canning replied that he was entitled to protect himself.

“I am very sorry about the families, the people that died. I did not kill them. I do not see why he (Mr Harvey) is picking on me.”

In his statement to the Inquiry made in August 1999, Mr Canning said he had left the Army after spending seven years in the pay corps and had decided to attend the anti-internment march.

He claimed that during the march he saw members of the Parachute Regiment firing indiscriminately from slots in the sides of Army vehicles.

Earlier, another witness admitted lying to the authors of a book about Martin McGuinness when he told them a breakaway group of the Official IRA opened fire on the Army on Bloody Sunday.

Liam O’Comain, a former member of the Official IRA, told the inquiry that he had lied to Sunday Times northern editor Liam Clarke and his wife Kathryn Johnston because he believed they were “doing a hatchet job” on Irish republicanism.

Mr O’Comain, who was a source for their book: Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government, had told them: “There was an element within the Officials that definitely made a decision to open up on Bloody Sunday and they did.”

A transcript of Mr O’Comain’s interview with the two journalists was submitted by Ms Johnston to the inquiry last year.

Disassociating himself from some of the claims in the document he told the inquiry that he had decided to feed them a mixture of truth and lies.

“In relation to the authors I must confess that after I had met them I assumed very quickly that the purpose of writing the book about Martin McGuinness was to do a hatchet job on Irish republicanism as a whole via this one individual.”

He said his claims of a breakaway Official IRA group were made in “a jocular manner”.

“There is no substance to this and I believe that I made this clear to the authors at the time and that I wanted no reference to it in the proposed biography.”

Asked by Counsel to the Inquiry Christopher Clarke QC w hy he had decided to lie about his own organisation, he replied: “I am an individual who I would admit has a bizarre type of sense of humour.

"It was a game when I met Mr Clarke and Ms Johnston and I believe that this particular document of Kathy Johnston is irrelevant to my experience of Bloody Sunday.”

Both Mr Clarke and Ms Johnston gave evidence to the inquiry last year when they were questioned about claims in the book that the Sinn Féin leader fired a round from a Thompson sub machine gun into the door of a bookie's shop on Bloody Sunday.

Meanwhile, another witness described how she shouted at Mr McGuinness after hearing that people had been shot by the Army on the day of the march.

Sheila Ingram told the inquiry that Mr McGuinness, who was second in command of the Provos at the time, was walking down the Lecky Road with some other men when she spotted him.

“It was apparent from their faces that they were wondering what on earth was happening and I think one of them must have shouted ‘what’s happening?’

“I distinctly remember shouting ‘so much for your protection then, they are killing people down there’,” she added.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.