Taylor points the finger at Heath government

by Democrat reporter

FORMER STORMONT minister and Ulster Unionist Party deputy leader John Taylor recently caused a storm with comments made to the Saville inquiry about the victims of Bloody Sunday. Taylor also clearly indicated that the British government was in direct control of ‘security’ in the statelet at the time of the massacre.

At the time of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, Taylor, now Lord Kilclooney, sat on Stormont’s joint security committee along with Stormont prime minister Brian Faulkner and senior police and British military personnel.

However, displaying a convenient lapse of memory, Taylor told the inquiry in March that he was unable to remember much about a number of key meetings prior to Bloody Sunday, including one where the possibility of shooting civilians is believed to have been considered. A number of these meetings were chaired by Taylor.

However, it was Taylor’s comments regarding those killed which caused particular offence, especially to the families of victims. Asked by Michael Lavery QC, counsel for most of the families of those killed and injured, if he believed that 13 ‘gunmen’ had been killed by British troops on the day, Taylor replied: “Oh yes, I believe that, yes and still do.” “There was no question of shooting unarmed civilians,” he added.

Taylor caused further outrage when he described the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), the organisation responsible for organising the Bloody Sunday march, as “a cover for terrorists”.

Despite the scandalous nature of Taylor’s remarks, the families of those killed and those wounded regard his evidence, overall, as being particularly significant. A statement issued by them following Taylor’s oral submission states: “Whilst not downplaying the role of the joint security committee in security and operational policy at Stormont, Taylor’s evidence clearly demonstrates that the Northern Ireland government was a mere puppet regime and that the political and security administration in Whitehall had direct and ultimate responsibility for the planning and conduct of the shoot to kill operations that were executed on Bloody Sunday.”

* Evidence presented to the tribunal in early March by former RUC chief superintendent Frank Lagan, the senior RUC officer in Derry at the time of Bloody Sunday, reaffirms the former officer’s belief that there would have been little violence if the march had been allowed to proceed to the city’s Guildhall as planned.

Lagan’s evidence, which had to be submitted in writing because of the former officer’s poor health, also confirmed that it was his belief that the army officer in command on the day, brigadier Pat MacLellan, agreed with the RUC officer’s assessment of the need to hold back the paratroopers until civil rights marchers had become completely separated from any rioters.

At one point MacLellan left the room, returning soon after. It was then that MacLellan Lagan: “I’m sorry, the paras have gone in.” Lagan was unable to say who was responsible for giving the order to send in the paratroopers. He had never discussed the issue with MacLellan, he insisted.

<< | Up | >>

This document was last modified by David Granville on 2002-03-30 14:45:38.
Connolly Association, c/o RMT, Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD
Copyright © 2001 Connolly Publications Ltd