“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.