Nail bombs ‘must have been planted’ - rights watchdog

Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch. (1506MM15)

Jane Winter, British Irish Rights Watch. (1506MM15)

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A London-based human rights watchdog believes nail bombs were planted on Gerald Donaghey by the security forces.

British-Irish Rights Watch (BIRW) - which has been monitoring events in the North since 1990 - says that, after a “thorough and detailed analysis” of the Saville Inquiry findings on the matter, it has concluded that the teenager did not have nail bombs in his pockets when he was killed.

Jane Winter, the organisation’s director, says the planting of the bombs “added insult to inquiry and has left Gerald Donaghey with an undeserved stain on his character - to the great grief of his family.

“We believe that, like all the other dead and injured, he was an innocent victim of what the prime minister has called unjustified and unjustifiable shooting by members of 1 Para on Bloody Sunday.”

BIRW says Lord Saville’s conclusion that Gerald Donaghey was “probably” in possession of nail bombs when shot is “fundamentally flawed” and “flies in the face” of evidence presented to his Inquiry.

BIRW pinpoints a number of factors which, it says, “tend to suggest” the teenager was not armed with nail bombs but they were planted on his body after his death. They include:

* only one person claimed that Gerald Donaghey was in possession of nail bombs, and that was Patrick Ward, whose evidence the BSI found to be unreliable;

* none of the witnesses, whether civilians or members of the security forces, who saw, or, more importantly touched, Gerald Donaghey saw any nail bombs at any point before their “discovery”;

* the BSI was unable to establish who first noticed nail bombs on Gerald Donaghey’s body;

* Gerald Donaghey’s body was at the Regimental Aid Post for a period of some ten minutes before anyone reported discovering any nail bomb;

* the bullet that killed Gerald Donaghey miraculously passed through the left-hand pocket of his jacket but missed the nail bomb that was, in the opinion of the Inquiry, in that pocket at that time.

According to BIRW, Lord Saville’s “flawed” findings in relation to Gerald Donaghey’s alleged possession of nail bombs served a number of purposes.

“First, and most crucially, from the point of view of Gerald Donaghey’s family, they exonerated both the police and the army of having planted nail bombs on Gerald Donaghey’s dead body. Second, they enabled the BSI to find that the IRA, whether Provisional or Official, was armed with nail bombs on Bloody Sunday.”