10 Aug 2022

Bloody Sunday decision: Transcript of what 'Sergeant O' told the BBC's Peter Taylor

Bloody Sunday Soldiers

One of the former soldiers who may face prosecution for his actions on Bloody Sunday has reiterated his belief that the British military operation on January 30, 1972 in the Bogside was a ‘job well done.’

The man, referred to by the cipher Sergeant O is understood to be in the frame for the wounding of two men 47 years ago.

In an interview with the BBC journalist Peter Taylor, the ex-serviceman said that whilst he believes that some innocent people were killed but he doesn't believe that all 13 killed on Bloody Sunday were innocent.

Were pressured on the point that the Saville Inquiry concluded that all of those killed and wounded were innocent he said: "I don't care what Lord Saville said, he wasn't there.

"I was there and my men were there. I disagree, there were some bad ones in amongst them."

When asked again if he still believed that British Army actions were a 'job well done', the former Paratrooper replied: "What I meant when I said that, from a strictly military point of view-battalion was moved from Belfast to Londonderry, we'd never been there before, we'd no maps, only the officers, the high-ups had maps, we had no idea of the ground we were going to cover. We didn't know where we were when the shooting was going on. We didn't know. We only learnt that later.

"But, we all came out of it alive, we all came out in good form. We achieved our aim which was to break up the crowd, scoop up individuals-somebody started the firing and that was it. But, it was still a good operation."

When asked again if it was a 'job well done," he replied: "Yes. Except, now I believe innocent people were killed."

Asked what his reaction will be if there are prosecutions, Sergeant O said: "Knowing what I know about the way the Northern Ireland police have conducted these things in my case, I've got no faith in them whatsoever."

The ex-soldier also revealed that he did not answer any questions posed to him by the PSNI when interviewed about his role on Bloody Sunday.

"They just kept asking me questions and asked me questions about people I'd never even heard of, I'd never seen in my life. If I'm prosecuted then I'm prosecuted, I'll fight it in the courts."

Queried on his recollection of the atmosphere and the pressures faced by soldiers on Bloody Sunday itself Sergeant O said: "We moved through a barrier into the crowd-we used the pigs (Saracen armoured vehicles) to go a certain distance into the crowd, stopping, debussing and started to make arrests. We'd done it time after time in Belfast. This was the first time we'd done it in Derry.

"The crowd broke and run, the same as they did in Belfast. But, the amount of times we'd seen on TV prior to that, the troops in Londonderry standing behind pigs accepting the stoning, bottling, fire bombs-all sorts. We will not accept that. The Parachute Regiment will show aggression and go through. They go for the enemy. And they were the enemy.

"Also, the point is they were all criminals. Every person on that march was a criminal.

"The police had said that the march was proscribed-not to take place. They still turned up.

Therefore they were breaking the law."

Sergeant O was then asked if the fact the march was banned merited killing 13 innocent people?

"Not in the slightest," he replied.

Also asked if he felt any guilt about what happened in Derry 47 years ago, the former soldier said: "No. For my own person, I would do the exact same again if I was there. I would do it the exact same way. For me. There are blokes-every man is different, but I would do it the same way."

CAPTION: A group of British Paratroopers in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday.

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