Soldiers from the Parachute Regiment who carried out the “appalling slaughter” on the streets of Derry on January 30, 1972, also brutally mistreated their prisoners, he said.
The claims were made by a former major in the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards at the Bloody Sunday tribunal. The officer, known only as “INQ 179,” recorded in his diary on the day that he was horrified by the Paras’ actions.
“Words cannot describe what a dreadful and ghastly regiment that is. Yesterday is already being called ‘Bloody Sunday’ and indeed it was. There is something quite horrible in seeing young men shot down by totally undisciplined troops, who take a pride and pleasure in this legalized murder,” he wrote.
“I saw the snatch squad of the Parachute Regiment bring in civilian prisoners. The way these savage, trained terrorists treated those civilians was beyond description.”
The major recalled seeing the Paratroopers return with civilians. He said in his statement that the soldiers, who later claimed they opened fire at the protesters in self-defense, were “screaming and yelling” at them.
Although he did not intervene, he said he was so appalled he told his commanding officer. The events had “drastically” changed his mind about the Northern Ireland situation.
He added three days after the deaths: “Nearly all the 13 people murdered were young men in their prime of life under 20 years of age. It horrifies me to think of a young body destroyed at such an early age.
“Sunday was the shame of the army in Ireland. We will never live it down”, he wrote.
Meanwhile, lawyers acting for the families of the Bloody Sunday dead and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness are fighting a gagging order by the British ministry of defense, according to the Sunday Times. The government department wants to limit the evidence of a former British army soldier who handled informers. A special hearing has been arranged for April 8 to decide the issues raised by a certificate issued by Geoff Hoon, the British defense secretary.
The soldier, who uses the pseudonym Martin Ingram, is a former member of the undercover Force Research Unit, which handled British military intelligence informers. He has accused the British army of deliberately misleading the inquiry, alleging it has withheld hundreds of relevant documents and photographs which should have made available. He also claims the British security service MI5 falsely accused McGuinness of opening fire on soldiers with a machine-gun as the march started.
The ministry of defense would prevent most of these issues being explored if its gagging certificate is granted. “Ingram” was not present on Bloody Sunday, but he reviewed all the available intelligence on the killings afterwards and said he had security clearance to the main military intelligence computer.
One document that has been disclosed by MI5 is an account of a debriefing with an IRA informant codenamed “Infliction.” This man claimed McGuinness told him he had opened fire on troops on Bloody Sunday.
Ingram challenges the authenticity of this document. His statement says: “I read many intelligence documents and I cannot recall any which suggested Martin McGuinness was involved in the firing of a weapon on Bloody Sunday.
“Indeed, I remember seeing documents that gave details of McGuinness’s movements, indicating that he had been subject to surveillance during the day of the march,” he added. No such documents have been disclosed by the British army to the tribunal.
The questions that the ministry of defense wants ruled out include anything relating to “the organization, chain of command, methods of operation, capabilities and techniques” of undercover units.
Gregg McCartney, a solicitor acting for the family of Jim Wray, who died on Bloody Sunday, will challenge the gagging order. In a submission, he accuses the ministry of defense of attempting “to preclude this tribunal from inquiring into matters that are of central importance.”