The North's Education Minister and Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness has confirmed that he was second in command of the IRA in Derry at the time of the Bloody Sunday shootings by paratroopers. In his draft statement to the Saville Inquiry Mr McGuinness confirms his involvement with the IRA but he says that he also tells them definitively the IRA did not engage in any way with the British Army on the day in January 1972. He tells them that there were no IRA units on the civil rights march or in the Rossville Street area, there were no IRA weapons in that area and that no IRA shots were fired at the British Army.

Mr McGuinness also rejects as a lie and as total and absolute nonsense the claim which had been made by some British sources that some IRA members had been killed and secretly buried across the border. He also deals with the claims made by the agent known as "Infliction" and says they are also absolute nonsense. Mr McGuinness was speaking to reporters at a news conference in West Belfast.

In the Dáil, the Taoiseach welcomed Mr McGuinness's admission. Mr Ahern said that he looked forward to the day when the IRA was no longer in existence. He said that he thought that it was a realistic assessment that the stage would be reached over the next few years where the IRA will cease to exist in the form that Sinn Féin have had a close association.