“It was only since the presidential campaign got under way…”

As RTÉ reported on Monday, the Sinn Féin candidate in the Irish Presidential race, Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA, found himself confronted, and called “a liar”, by the son of a member of the Irish Army who was killed in Ballinamore in 1983 by the Provisional IRA gang who were holding the kidnapped businessman Don Tidey.  The full RTÉ video clip is available here.

As Anthony McIntyre observes

Looking at the incident from where I sat the presidential candidate was caught unawares by what he thought was a member of the public seeking an autograph only to be confronted by a son bearing a photo of a father killed in the course of an IRA operation in 1983. McGuinness if he faltered did so only fleetingly. He did not lose his composure, but he would have been better served by losing his arrogance.

His haughty dismissal of the man’s heartfelt assertion that he was a member of the IRA leadership at the time an Irish soldier, Private Patrick Kelly, lost his life showed a glimpse of a man who was once president of the IRA’s army council rather than a man who aspires to be President of Ireland and ‘titular head of the Defence Forces.’ The dismissive response ‘how do you know?’, when everybody else knows, might go down well when thrown at a political rival, even a journalist. It courts contempt when cynically employed against someone seeking to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of his father.

Yesterday’s Irish Times reported on a later speech by Martin McGuinness

MARTIN McGUINNESS last night moved to deal with a serious challenge to his presidential campaign caused by a dramatic confrontation in Athlone with a man whose father was killed by the IRA.

“As a republican leader I have never and would never stand over attacks on the Garda Síochána or the Defence Forces,” Mr McGuinness said.

However, he did not condemn the killings of Pte Patrick Kelly and Gary Sheehan, a Garda trainee from Co Monaghan, who were killed by the IRA in Derrada Woods near Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, during a joint Garda and Army operation to rescue businessman Don Tidey in 1983.

His party colleagues have not been reluctant in assisting those responsible for such attacks in evading the attention of the media.

And that “opponent of Sinn Féin”, Ed Moloney, has an interesting question for the Irish Presidential candidate.  From Ed Moloney’s blog

Once again it would be beneficial to hear Sinn Fein’s attitude to Peter King’s views, this time on the need for the media to suppress coverage of the OWS [Occupy Wall Street] protests. After all Sinn Fein presents itself to the Irish voter as the friend of all those who were victims of the Irish banks’ casino capitalism and has vowed to defend their interests and punish those responsible for impoverishing so many Irish people. And here is their biggest fan in America calling for people with those exact same views in the US to be gagged. So what does Sinn Fein, and particularly Martin McGuinness think of the OWS protests? Are they, is he on the side of the protesters or on the side of Peter King & the Wall Street executives with whom the SF candidate for the Park was recently closeted? T’would be interesting to know.

The answer might depend on who the audience was…

As Jennifer O’Connell noted in the Sunday Business Post

McGuinness wants to be seen as a freedom fighter turned statesman, in the mould of a Mandela or a Castro. But his public image south of the border is still a long way from that.

He argues that people in the North have moved on, even unionists have moved on – and that it’s time the rest of the people on this island did too. But I think he’s got it the wrong way round. It’s McGuinness who needs to catch up with us.

After all, it was only last Monday, in that interview with the London Independent, that he finally admitted that the accidental killings of innocent civilians by the IRA could legitimately be seen as ‘‘murder’’.

It was also only in the last fortnight that he described the 1987 Enniskillen bombing, when the IRA killed 11 civilians, as ‘‘atrocious’’, and said he was ‘‘ashamed’’ of the republicans who carried it out.

It was only since the presidential campaign got under way that he felt inclined to sympathise with the relatives of all those who lost their lives, including the families of British and Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers and RUC police officers. This shift in his language at this time is not a coincidence – say what you like about McGuinness, but he’s no fool.

  • Rory Carr

    The Deputy FRM “recently closeted with Wall Street executives” while on a mission with his FM colleague to seeks inward investment. How strange. Whom would Ed Moloney suggest they ought to have approached instead for investment – the Occupy Wall Street protesters ?

    I would presume in any case that McGuinness would rightly see the internal affairs of the USA as none of our business and a protest in New York certainly not something for him to comment upon. We would never hear the end of it from the likes of McIntyre, Moloney and O’Connell if in fact he did. And that’s a fact.

  • ranger1640

    Wee marty not the only Irish republican that has the ventriloquist’s gift, but he can talk out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, audience dependent of course. Strange bead fellows wee marty and King. One a rabid capitalist republican, and the other a rabid marxist republican.

    Wee martys mate Peter King, he is as confused as wee marty is now on the IRA terror champaign.

    King has courted racial controversy in the USA with his rantings. But wee marty should not worry too much, King is still anti, the anti war movement.

    “Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) is afraid that the growing number of Occupy Wall Street protesters, along with the mounting media coverage of the movement, may end up shaping U.S. government policy like the anti-war protesters did in the 1960s and 1970s”.

    “King was speaking on Laura Ingraham’s radio show on Friday when he blasted the protesters as “ragtag mobs” and said he remembers a 1960s left-wing movement that took to the streets and caused policy changes after the media “glorified” the protesters. He hopes that the Occupy Wall Street protesters aren’t re-creating the spirit and influence of that historical protest movement.

    King, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said the protesters have “no sense of purpose.”

    “The fact is, these people are anarchists,” King said on the radio program. “They have no idea what they’re doing out there. They have no sense of purpose other than a basically anti-American tone, and [they are] anti-capitalist. It’s a ragtag mob, basically.”



    Speaking with right-wing radio show host Laura Ingraham on Friday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, blasted the media for providing fair coverage to the Occupy Wall Street protests. “They have no sense of purpose other than a basically anti-American tone,” he said.
    King also explained that he is “old enough to remember what happened in the 1960s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy.” He added, “We can’t allow that to happen”:


    And in classic Irish republican he insults the dead.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Fine on the first point you make. On the second, not so much; he only chooses not to have an opinion about it to the extent that it might hold the potential to upset the applecart of his/Robbo’s investment ‘plans’. Fair enough in the overall scheme of mediocre politics as far as it goes. There’s no issue of principle at stake at all though….or is there ? After all, would you regard a ‘no comment’ position by, say Terence O’Neill in relation to the Selma Montgomery marches as applause-worthy ? “None of my business” says Jack Lynch about Bloody Sunday – a good thing ? Clinton has “Nothing to say” about Kosovo – fair enough ? Very Douglas Hurd ‘Realist’ if you don’t mind me saying so, very George Bush Senior re. Salman Rushdie.

    ‘Risking’ some so-what’s-new anti-SF criticism from McIntyre, Moloney et al as a reason to adopt a principle like this – proportionate and able to withstand proper scrutiny would you say ?

  • Jimmy Sands

    You know it’s getting bad when he has to endure backchat from the SBP.

  • Rory Carr


    It is not a case of observed neutrality being praiseworthy, more a case of holding to the time-worn convention of leaving other nations to sort out their own internal problems as a matter of mutual respect. The right of nations to self determination also means the right to make their own mistakes and to develop at their own pace without external interference.

    So of course Clinton had no right to bomb Kossovo to aid Albanian inspired terrorists in their grab for Serbian national territory. That was just another US imperialist adventure.

    The Selma -Montgomery marches were of no concern to Terence O’Neil – civil rights was an issue for him at home not four thousand miles away in Alabama. Jack Lynch did have a constitutional duty to involve himself in the northern part of his nation which lay under occupation.

    Salman Rushdie can go hang for all I care but the most that was required of the US state while he was under its jurisdiction was that any crime against his person be subsequently investigated.

    Does that cover everything ?

  • Jimmy Sands

    So why is a UK office holder getting involved in our presidential election?

  • Nunoftheabove


    Covers a lot, I can’t deny that. Your commitment to quite such an overt form of isolationist parochialism is, in its own way, impressive. Nicely maneuvered for the purposes of providing coverage to Lynch and the wimpy weedy discharge of what you call his constitutional duties in 1972. For all the good it did some in the north at the time it’d have been as well if he had minded his own business and stayed in bed for several years.

    Frank of you to admit your sympathy for Serbian national socialism – totalitarian, thoroughly corrupt, sectarian, expansionist, genocidal. Thanks for that although I would concede the expression of just a little surprise that you allow yourself the right to (albeit retrospectively) – as you would say – ‘interfere’ in other people’s ‘internal affairs’ by articulating an opinion on the matter. Think you’re over your own line there, dude. There was no chalk dust.

    Frank of you to admit your utter disinterest in freedom of speech or to any protections extended to it or indeed any solidarity expressed in relation to it. In the process you also shine a light on at least some of those whom you choose to align yourself with regard to the Rushdie affair so thanks very much indeed for that too – plenty revealing altogether.

  • Henry94

    If we have learned anything from this campaigin it is that the brand of gotcha anti-SF tactics that parts of the media love have a limited impact on voters who in general have a better grasp of the complexity of the past than they are given credit for.

    In one of the recent polls 30% of voters were giving MMcG a first second or third preference. That’s an endorsement of the man McGuinness is today from people who understand where he is coming from and has come from.

  • Jimmy Sands

    In one of the recent polls 30% of voters were giving MMcG a first second or third preference.

    I’ve been assured on more than one occasion that no true republican ever tells polling companies the truth.

  • Jimmy Sands,

    It’s nothing to do with “true republicanism”. Nobody with a titter of wit should tell the truth to polling companies; it doesn’t make sense!

  • Nunoftheabove


    “If we have learned anything from this campaigin it is that the brand of gotcha anti-SF tactics that parts of the media love have a limited impact on voters who in general have a better grasp of the complexity of the past than they are given credit for”.

    I would like to believe that and I’m not so sure that I actually don’t but…can we actually say that we’ve learned that ? I mean, really ? I get the media-out-of-step-with etc etc argument – that’s been obvious for years – but can we genuinely assert that that voters have a better grasp of the complexity of the past …or just that they don’t necessarily behave the way certain sections of the media expect them to or perhaps would prefer that they do ?

  • Limerick

    “As a republican leader I have never and would never stand over attacks on the Garda Síochána or the Defence Forces,” Mr McGuinness said.

    Then why did his subordinates provide so much support for the people who attacked them?

    Not to mention himself.

  • There’s been a further intervention, this time from a member of the Hand family:

    Mr Hand said he accepted the work Mr McGuinness had done in relation to the peace process but that his family felt “insulted” that Sinn Fein never issued an apology.

    “I accept that he was instrumental in bringing things about (with the peace process) but I think he has blood on his hands and I think he’s an inappropriate candidate for the presidency of our country, of my country.”

    “We all know he was involved and to say that he never would have is ridiculous.”

  • Limerick

    Sinn Fein said that the issues “had been addressed” by Mr McGuinness already and that it had no further comment to add.

    Yeah right.

  • Pete Baker


    Before leaping to dismiss everything as a “brand of gotcha anti-SF tactics”, start by attempting to falsify the criticisms noted in the original post.

  • Pete, you left out a rather telling comment from Jennifer O’Connell in the SBP:

    I admire what he achieved in the peace process. I wish him well. But I won’t be voting for him.

    Did you look for any journalists/analysts who will be voting for Martin? They must be out there. I can understand why they might wish to keep their heads down for a few days.

    J O’C – It’s McGuinness who needs to catch up with us.

    Considering that Dublin did a runner in the sight of a ’32-county revolution’ and its sheer hypocrisy with regard to governance in the two jurisdictions catching up would be something of a herculean task. Also there’s a limit to the number of flips the PRM can do without losing even more of its voter base in NI as well as control of its own grass-roots. I appreciate that the Kingdom of Moyle is a place apart but, as I’ve already pointed out, SF only picked up about half of the Republican vote. Perhaps Jennifer is too young and too far away to appreciate these nuances.

  • Jimmy Sands

    sheer hypocrisy with regard to governance in the two jurisdictions

    I don’t really understand this. You seem to be complaining that different rules apply on your side of the border. Isn’t that the point of partition?

  • Pete Baker


    “Did you look for any journalists/analysts who will be voting for Martin?”

    Ah, the balance of he said/she said ‘journalism’…

    The reasons Jennifer O’Connell has given for not voting for McGuinness are what are important. And quoted above.

    Address those.

    And the other criticisms noted in the original post.

    Sinn Féin potentially “losing even more of its voter base in NI as well as control of its own grass-roots” is not relevant to any form of journalism.

    Particularly in the context of an Irish Presidential election.

    Unless you think that journalism should be governed and censored by the potential impact on a political party’s attainment of power…

  • Not just different rules, different standards too, Jimmy. Mind you there’s maybe not that much difference when it comes to political sleaze 🙂

    Dublin civil servants participate in governance, North and South, and it’s been quite interesting to observe the differences between the approaches of those from the Department of Justice and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The former folks are much more cautious when it comes to all those jollies for the paramilitary godfathers as they have to deal with the consequences of any ‘leakage’ of ‘community activist’ projects across the border.

    “I don’t really understand this.”

    Like hell, you don’t 🙂

  • Pete Baker

    Stop trying to derail the discussion, Nevin.

  • Rory Carr


    In your response at 8.48 pm to my post of 7.59 pm you ascribe to me opinions neither presented, inferred or, more to the point, held by me.

    I realise that more than half a century of US expansionism has dulled perceptions of long-held conventions of non-interference just as the judicial murder of the head-of-state of Iraq has paved the way to a general acceptance that such formerly unthinkable action should be the norm.

    And, “No !”, you may not feel free to interpret the above as a statement for support (or otherwise) of any policies or actions of Saddam Hussein. The point is, in case you have missed it, that the principles hold regardless of one’s political opinions.

  • “Ah, the balance of he said/she said ‘journalism’…”

    Pete, when ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ are essentially the same, that’s not journalism, it’s the repetition – in this case – of the views of those who, for varying reasons, are hostile observers. I doubt if Martina Devlin would on this list.

  • Pete Baker


    Focus on the content of the original post. If you don’t mind.

  • Rory Carr

    “So why is a UK office holder getting involved in our presidential election?”

    Check out his entitlement under your constitution, Jimmy.

  • Pete Baker


    Again with the lack of understanding…

  • Pete Baker


    “My focus, Pete, has been on that part of the original post that took issue with McGuinness’s failure to intervene in an issue of US domestic concern…”

    And an entirely tangential focus from the original post…

    You’re not that stupid, Rory.

    I wouldn’t demean you by treating you as if you were that stupid.

  • orly

    Sense of schadenfreude here.

    For years, when Marty was plying his trade up here, the Irish thought he was a solid bloke…what a man. The conversion to a Gandhi like figure of glorious peacemaker.

    But as soon as he turned up on their doorstep they stepped back into reality and decided he wasn’t quite up to standard.

    Must be a nationalist/republican/irish trait. Not being honest.

  • Jimmy Sands

    the Irish thought he was a solid bloke

    We even gave him free accommodation

  • Alias

    Looks like Marty Mandela is quickly reverting to type and intimidating journalists again. This time it’s Miriam O’Callaghan who gets to see the real McGuinness.

  • Harry Flashman

    “the judicial murder of the head-of-state of Iraq”

    I thought Saddam was legally executed by Iraqis for various crimes against humanity in Iraq after a trial in which his defence was fully represented in an Iraqi courtroom according to Iraqi laws in a democratic Iraq.

    What was that about not commenting on other countries’ internal affairs again?

  • Nunoftheabove

    Rory Carr

    Well if those aren’t your positions on Kosovo and on free speech you’ve done an admirable job of concealing what your real postions are by waving the wrong end of the stick at us. You stick with your isolationist position if you like, just try adhering to it and by the looks of it we may benefit from a cessation of your comments on other situations which you don’t consider the business of ‘foreigners’, not least as you don’t seem to know very much about them. I didn’t mention Saddam Hussein but, again, thanks for the information.

  • “Unless you think that journalism should be governed and censored by the potential impact on a political party’s attainment of power…”

    Pete, I’d like to see journalists, editors and media owners up their game and also be driven less by their own personal prejudices and fixations.

    Most of the insights I’ve picked up here on Slugger have come from the contributions of folks with first-hand experience or who’ve taken the trouble to do some deep-dive research with the aid of FoI requests.

  • between the bridges

    ‘THIS slick PR manipulation has also added insult to the years of hurt by trying also to label the families of his victims as being bitter, intransigent and incapable of moving on. It may be easy for somebody who directed terrorism to move on, but McGuinness has no right to tell those of us on the receiving end of his murderous campaign to move on.’

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Why should people not tell the truth to polling companies?

  • Nunoftheabove

    between the bridges

    That’s fair comment and McG also needs to make his mind up and be held to a position on this once and for all. Either he wants truth and a full and impartial reckoning and personal accountability -to be taken even if it’s conducted under a general amnesty – or he would prefer that we all forget about it and live with the hurt and the lies and the half-truth into perpetuity. I think I can guess which option he’s most passionate about. His plain dishonesty in the course of recent months is as firm an indication as we’re likely to get or to need that he knows the truth will never have to be told and/or that he will opt not to even if the opportunity arises. There will come a point at which SF lip service to a commitment to some form of truth/reconciliation forum or process will become too ludicruous for them to sustain in argument. Conceivably we’re there already.

  • “Conceivably we’re there already”

    Nun, I think we’ve been there for quite some time. I think it’s fairly safe to predict that because of his role in reducing the risk to UK and Irish institutions (aka the peace process) he can expect immunity from justice in those quarters. Agents of those institutions are also likely to elevate self-preservation over truth and justice.

    I’ve just had a look at Patrick Corrigan’s view on this matter in OurKingdom:

    [Adams] endorsement of [a Northern Ireland Truth Commission] and call for it be helped by “all relevant parties”, suggests that the IRA, which was responsible for over 1,700 deaths – nearly half of the overall death toll from the conflict – could be ready to participate in a truth recovery process.

    It’s hard to know what to make of such misjudgement. Perhaps it represents the triumph of hope over experience. His assessment was made just over three years ago.

  • Nunoftheabove


    The contradiction between what McG is now saying and what SF policy on this has been for some times leads one to believe we’re not quite there yet but approaching no-return fairly quickly – the Finucane decision might also accelerate this in a curious way although as we know there’s a polite if not terribly well finessed fiction about all of this already. Cans will of course be continue to be kicked down roads though.