“I had to put a lot of pressure on Tony Blair…”

On the eve of the publication of the Saville Inquiry report, The Guardian‘s Henry McDonald reports former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s claim of responsibility…

Ahern said its impact on the peace process had been critical. “It was immensely important because at that time we were trying to build confidence and help the people of Derry, who had been dealing with this for years,” Ahern said.

“I had to put a lot of pressure on Tony Blair. All the advice he was getting from securicrats was to not go into a full judicial inquiry. I suppose you could understand why now, with the cost and the time.

“But we had done a submission, the Irish government had done a submission, and we had put a lot at stake in building up nationalist confidence that we would be able to work with the British government and work with Tony Blair. So to have them refuse to give us the inquiry, a full judicial sworn inquiry in front of judges at that time, it would have unsettled the nationalist community and unsettled all the organisations that were in Derry fighting the British for a long time.”

And Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness denies, once again, having told Tony Blair that the inquiry was unnecessary

Martin McGuinness, the former IRA chief of staff who is now Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, today denied claims that he had told Blair an apology from London over Bloody Sunday would be enough. The Sinn Féin MP said the assertion by Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff in Downing Street, that McGuinness told Blair a multimillion-pound inquiry was not necessary was “erroneous.”

In his book Great Hatred, Little Room, Powell alleges McGuinness made the observations to Blair during secret talks. But McGuinness said: “The citizens of Derry, to a man and woman, want Saville to make it absolutely clear that the 27 people who were shot on that day – murdered and injured – were completely innocent people and that those people who inflicted those deaths and injuries were the guilty parties.” In evidence, McGuinness told the inquiry that on Bloody Sunday he was adjutant of the Derry IRA.

But as Mick noted the first time round

…it is hardly surprising that McGuinness (who had been an IRA commander in the city at the time) was no enthusiast of this particular inquiry, since he refused to give detailed answer surrounding a number of accusations himself.

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  • Drumlin Rock

    Well thats for that Bertie, would your government now like to contribute towards the costs? £50,000,000 would be a lovely gesture.

  • Cynic

    Would you buy a used car from this man?

    The cutest hoor of them all?

  • martin

    thats Bertie all right
    the little turd regularly claims responsibility for anything that he recons would be popular.

    The ickonimy was grand during my watch dunno what happened

  • Pete Baker

    And yet, it’s probably an accurate recollection.

  • paxtime

    I’m sure blair was shaking in his boots. Mind you their mutual interest in loads of unearned money would have drawn them close together one assumes.

  • DC

    Success has a thousand fathers failure is an orphan.

  • joeCanuck

    I don’t believe that anyone expected that the inquiry would last this long or would cost so much money. An inquiry was necessary, not least to nail Widgery but perhaps Saville went overboard.
    Mind you, we have just had an inquiry almost wrapped up here in Canada into the Air India plane bombing which cost over 300 lives just off the Irish coast about 20 years ago. The inquiry followed a botched trial where the accused were acquitted, due largely to the RCMP mishandling of events leading up to the bombing and their subsequent investigation.. It lasted 4 years and the report will be published next week. I don’t know the cost but I suspect a lot less than $400M.

  • Cynic

    I dont doubt it

  • Cynic

    It shows the perverted psychology of the man and of Blair. Ahern’s own party and his great personal Mentor had funded and armed PIRA at the start of the campaign. Over the Troubles PIRA murdered over 2500 people. They had lost militarily and been ground down, penetrated by agents and, while still dangerous, made largely ineffectual.

    Yet to do a peace deal the British had to make a grand gesture on Bloody Sunday

  • Bertie’s capacity to selectively, remember, un-remember and non-remember events is surely the meat and drink of future medical science research.
    “…we had done a submission, the Irish government had done a submission,..” (poor grammar is Bertie’s)
    The weight of nationalist opinion eventually persuades the RoI government (led by FF, the ‘Republican’ party) to put pressure on the British government for a fresh inquiry into Bloody Sunday. After resisting pressure to make an official demand for, oh, twenty-odd years, they finally give in during the peace process and introduce it. Now Bertie wants to imagine himself up the brownie points for his tilt at the job in Phoenix Park/top-up salary to his Taoiseach/Ministerial/TD pensions.
    The Minister for Finance without a bank account, indeed.

  • First comma after selectively is my own bad grammar…

  • DC

    The Minister for Finance without a bank account, indeed.

    Gets me everytime that wee one 🙂

  • By the way guys – even the Beeb aren’t spinning the McGuinness story today as balance (NI style).
    He actually told Powell that an apology rather than an inquiry was necessary, which is pretty different to how it is being presented above. I think Powell and co chose the 200m route to see if an apology was necessary, was it not? Anyone going to blog demanding an apology from Powell etc for not just issuing the apology back then and getting it over with?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    So is someone suggesting that Berty told the British to spend hundereds of millions on it and dictated the frormat and the length?

    Many British people are trying to undermine their own enquiry by telling everybody they spent too much on it ?

    What sort of nonsense is that?

  • Jean Meslier

    …Press Statement…


    David Cameron is to give a press conference in Wesminster at 1pm today, before the release of Saville.

    He will state the following:

    1. The 1st Parachute Regiment were deployed in Derry to entice the Provisional IRA to engage in an open battle.

    2. The soldiers were permitted/encouraged to shoot civilians to provoke retaliation by the IRA

    3. The Widgery enquiry was a coverup because the government was involved in a war with the IRA which was now stronger because of Blood Sunday

    4. In the same vein as Balaclava, Islandlwana, Gallipoli etc the entire operation was a farce. Therefore because of inept planning and incompetent interference from the bungling British Government Cameron will put the blame squarely on whom it belongs:-

    The squaddies on the day.

    ….End of Statement…

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    @What sort of nonsense is that?” It’s good when questioners are their own answer too.

  • redhugh78

    Yeah, Canary Wharf was ineffectual indeed.