Has McGuinness’s reputation been enhanced or diminished by Saville?

There has been considerable emphasis on the back of the Saville report on Martin McGuinness’ role on the day… much of which focuses on page 46 para 3.119 of the summary document:

Before the soldiers of support company went into the Bogside he was probably armed with a Thompson sub-machinegun, and though it is possible that he fired this weapon, there is insufficient evidence to make any finding on this, save that we are sure that he did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire.

In the light of history, has the reputation of Martin McGuinness been enhanced or diminished by the Saville Report?


  • Johnny Boy

    To save me from reading the whole document, how did Saville come to the conclusion that he could be sure that no shots were fired at the Paras?

  • Canny See It Sur

    He didn’t.

    It was found that shots were fired but only a few and only in response to the firing from the soldiers.

  • Fearglic

    What was the probability based on? the word of a paid informer? The Para in charge was shown to be lying in front of the camera. How easy would it be for a hidden agent-with-no-name to lie? In many peoples minds anyone who fired back would have been a hero.

  • Mick Fealty

    You really ought to read the full context of the Infliction witness. Saville goes into considerable depth and length to test the reliability of that particular piece of evidence.

  • joeCanuck

    Eamonn, you missed the third possibility; no change.

  • redhugh78

    It seems to me that Saville has exonerated Martin Mc Guinness, his opponents are clinging to the part of Saville that says ‘and though it is possible that he fired this weapon..’ Saville might well have said no more so than it is possible that he put a flower down the barrell of it himself, there is just no evidence of it at all.

  • Dewi

    Depth and length maybe – but the conclusion ain’t exactly a syllogism based on the evidence…strange that more people didn’t actually see the machine gun.

  • Johnny Boy

    Exonerated is a strong word, he was 2nd in command of the IRA in Derry, how many killings did he order\participate in do you think?

  • drumlins rock

    I would probably go with Joe’s view that it hasnt changed much, it has probably helped his position within Republicanism marginally, but also hilighted his role as the most public face of the IRA in the views of Unionists, but also marginally, the strange coalition with Peter takes precedence and it will be back to “business as usual” soon, ie. agreeing to do nothing.

  • Mick Fealty

    There is evidence certainly Red. What you make of it though is a matter for individual judgement.


    Not so strange that it makes the possibility or even probably unbelievable. It’s hardly the kind of thing you run round with brandishing in public when there is an army lock down in town.

    The only ones likely to have seen it would be other volunteers, one of whom provided the ‘Infliction’ evidence. S/he was still in the IRA 12 years later.

  • Salem

    Martin McGuiness is and was an IRA man – he may have moved to peaceful process i doubt that he will ever admit to the crimes he was involved in

  • David T

    I’m glad to say that my view of Art Garfunkel remains unchanged.

  • willis

    I think his reputation is already safe:

    IAN Paisley has revealed he prayed with Martin McGuinness while they served as ministers.


  • Fearglic

    Is it a crime because you oppose the reasons for violent actions? Then all acts of violence are crimes. If I entered your home with the intention to pillage it would it be a crime for you to use violence to resist me? Wether you like it or not when countries are invaded and rights eroded and peolple are made non citizens or 2nd class citizens then resistance is justified. The outcome of actions may be terrible but the intentions of the actions are proper and therefore the actions are not crimes. I’m not endorsing violence for political gain but I feel that that is the Real World. Look at any peaceful settlement and you will uncover a hidden history of “crimes” that set that settlement up.

  • I think this is seen as the sole area in which there may be political capital to get at SF (or just McGuinness). I pointed out in another thread – this was a tactic to avoid engaging with Saville’s conclusions – this has been obvious since the issue was first raised. This was all from anonymous sources, of course. Firstly it was MMcG fires first shot, then slowly scaled back into something that may sound plausible. Ultimately, Saville dismissed any impact on the decision of the Paras to open fire. I doubt the light of history will make this any more than a footnote (at best).
    McGuinness himself has a reputation that will never be enhanced in the eyes of his opponents. Maybe some Derry republicans might raise an eyebrow that he didn’t fire back, though – is that what Eamonn actually meant?

  • Jean Meslier

    Has Durkin returned from London yet?

  • Jean Meslier

    IMO Martin McGuinness has emerged from the entire peace process as a giant amongst men (and women).

    The dignity he expressed when dealing with Paisley or Robinson especially when they were performing to the DUP base (rednecks) elevated him to statesman.

    The fact that his name made its way into Cameron’s speech was the last kick of a British establishment playing to their base.
    MMcG standing on top of the Rossville flats -”to the echo of a Thompson gun”.as the words of the old song would say.
    What an absolutely incredulous picture.

    Allegations based on heresay have no place in todays society. Hopefully this will be the last.
    The recent Belfast Telegraph poll spoke volumes as to what the unionist people want i.e. effective leadership as articulated by MMcG for nationalism.
    Someone in parallel needs to emerge from unionism to deliver 21st Century representation instead of the bronze age fundamentalist dinosaurs who think change is a republican gain.

    One last point.
    His put down response to Noel Thompson (no pun intended) was the highlight on Tuesday in a day of glorious highlights.

    Down here in NA they used to refer to the Thompson machine gun as – The Vomitting Nannygoat!
    That could be applied to a few of the above mentioned politicians, but not literally of course.

  • salem

    Have you learnt how to spell yet ?

    Anyone else thinking there seems to be alot of trolls around slugger these days ?

  • Munsterview

    It would seem Savill was savvy with his use of language and phraseology if he was really neutral and objective he could have written words to the effect that

    “………. even if McGuiness had a Tomson submachine gun on the day as is alleged, there is no there is no evidence direct or circumstantial to indicate that he fired the weapon that he was alleged to have in his possession ….. ”

    Widgery knew what was required of him…… as a line in a popular song from the period has it….. And we’ll get Lord Widgery to whitewash the wall…!”. Savill too is a product of his class and background : be it inadvertent or deliberate his nomenclature cannot be expected to be neutral towards Martin McGuiness to begin with but this is not the end of the story.

    Once the form and content of that report was known to the Legal / Intel community/ Government, it would be a very trusting and naive soul indeed who would believe that it would not be presented in the best possible format for the reputation of British State for domestic and foreign consumption and that applied to the language used in particular.

    Can the possibility that it was sexed up be discounted going on the past record of the Labour Government in these matters ? Could anyone accept the details on a used car logbook from these guys at face value?

    The net result is we have thirteen people killed outright on the day and a large number wounded yet an equal part of the debate on this issue is now occupied in these postings as to whether McGuiness had the gun as alleged or otherwise.

    Anyone that thinks that this came about incidentally is just not living in the real world and since those that were responsible for this orientation and spin are, like all true professionals, following the debate and learning, it would be churlish of me as somebody that did a spin or two in my own day not to say… job well done guys… congrads!

  • Neil

    His put down response to Noel Thompson

    What did he say? He’s quick witted, I’ll give him that…

  • Fathomline

    The wags are already saying McGuinness has serious questions to answer about the Thompson, like why the hell he didn’t turn it on the Paras. Chances are he did handle a Thompson at some point in the day, if only to take it off some reluctant Bogside quartermaster for transfer to Creggan ahead of the march. But the strong and positive Saville findings naturally lead us all into related areas, including the killing of the unarmed RUC officers at Rosemount the Thursday before. Anyone know if they were shot with a Thompson? More generally, in the wake of Saville and more particularly Cameron’s frank statement, there is something of a shift in attitudes to truth and the telling of truth about the past. The old omerta routine is not going to do it for much longer. McGuinness is one of the very few to put his hand up about IRA involvement. That frankness may well put him at the receiving end of a wave of pressure to tell more and tell all. It is conceivable that befroe long some of that pressure might now come from the Bloody Sunday families.

  • Jean Meslier

    Sorry Salem
    It seems mentioning the newly non-spectacled one in anything other than blind (no pun) idolatry is not permitted

    Has Marcus Durkanus returned from Londinium yet?

  • Jean Meslier

    It was Thommos twisting of the Saville ambiguity around the machine gun and his personal take on it into an unequivocal certainty that Marty must had the gun because “infliction” said so.

  • boris1

    They were indeed murdered with a Thompson.

  • Jean Meslier

    A practical response to give credibility to Cameron’s olive branch would be the immediate demotion of all Paras who Saville knows were involved in the implementation, execution and cover up on Bloody Sunday.

  • Alan N/ARDS

    I listened to the former hunger striker turned “politician” Raymond McCartney( I think that’s his name) being interviewed by William Crawley today. He was asked, would he aplogise for the murders of the two police officers killed two days before BS now that Cameron has apologised for the BS killings. He refused. He was then asked should McGuiness apologise. He said that he couldn’t speak for him. Will McGuiness have the decency to it?

    Republicans need to step up to the plate and apologise to the people of this island for what they did was wrong and unjustified. For goodness sake they killed more catholics than the hated Brits. These were the people they claimed they were defending.

  • I dont see that it will make any real difference to most people. Everyone was already entrenched and unlikely to be moved either way.

    To be fair Martin McGuinness has performed well in office. His reputation has grown accordingly. I wonder if he has the staying power of Enda Kenny. Out in the real world, the battle is bloodless but just as ferocious.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Don’t hold your breath Alan N/Ards; the chances of them admitting that their campaign was morally questionable is zero. After all, that would lead onto the decidedly politically awkward questions around whether it was either successful or even purposeful.

    The difference is that the two cops were killed as part of the provo campaign to bring down the state and had no pretence to legality, due process or to accountability of any kind for those undertaking the operation other than to the illegal structures to which they reported. The British army were supposed to be upholding law and order; in effect, protecting the citizens it killed. They are, or were, or should have been, fully accountable. To all of us.

  • Nunoftheabove

    …and not least as he would not recognise them as crimes.

  • Rory Carr

    The barrel-scraping on this matter of McGuinness and the Thompson sub-machine gun which he may or may not have been seen with on Bloody Sunday was perhaps best illustrated by that great organ of objectivity on all matters pertaining to Ireland, the Daily Telegraph which in today’s edition runs a non-story to gladden the hearts of its faithful readership;

    Did machinegun ‘carried by McGuinness’ kill two policemen?”

    It rambles on at some length but (as the quotation marks in the headline indicate) is only able to answer its own question with a feeble “one can’t know really”. Hardly surprising when we don’t even know if he was indeed seen carry the weapon in the first instance. But we mustn’t be curmudgeonly and let mere evidence stand in the way of a good smear piece especially one designed to mitigate their readers’ pain at the Saville Inquiry’s conclusions exposing the murderous activities of their beloved Paras.

  • kevin moran

    Nice cherry picking of Saville. Where the report deals with Perfidious Albion it’s spot-on; however where Marty is concerned it’s all doubtful sources and Lord Saville’s natural inclination to be agin the damn croppie.

    McGuinness was, by us own admission, ‘2i/c’ of the Derry murder gang. Now I wonder how does one rise in the ranks of such a group? Being good at macramé perhaps? Or maybe he progressed via the Fly Fishing Unit?

    Three days before Bloody Sunday two unarmed police officers were shot to death by the murder gang armed with, according to evidence, a Thompson .45 calibre sub-machine gun. McGuinness had possession of such a weapon on the Sunday. Given his access to the weapon and his exaulted position in that murder gang an investigation of him for conspiracy to murder is warranted.

    Will it happen? No chance. Lady Justice has lifted her veil and is looking in the opposite direction.

  • cynic2

    It really is sad to read some of the republican. Comments here. No honesty, no openness no future. Feet stuck in the past and sometimes sectarian and partisan to the core.

  • Mick Fealty

    Can I ask, kindly that people take Eamonn’s question in the serious manner it is posed. And try not to duck the question by saying ‘no difference’. Your reasoning will be much more interesting than whatever answer you plump for.

    I’m giving it some serious thought for my own response to this thread later this evening.

    Rory, here’s one just for you. If Saville was right about the killings that day, what grounds do you have for believing his version of machine gun story to be false?

  • Alan N/ARDS

    Most unionists have accepted that the people killed were innocent. Even Peter Robinson has accepted it. Our church leaders reached out the hand of friendship and reconciliation yesterday. Yet the “army of the Republic” in which McGuiness was asenior commander will not own up to deliberately murdering hundreds of innocent civillians.

    They claim to be an army and Adams and McGuiness have saluted these “brave heroes” yet they have murdered more catholics than the Paras or any other regiment in the British Army. I don’t recall the army strapping a catholic to a van steering wheel and forcing him to drive a bomb into an army barracks and to his death.

    These war crimes were committed in the name of the Republic and many of the attacks around the border were planned and executed from there. Until these crimes are accepted by republicans they have no chance of reconciling this island. The political parties in the south espially Fianna Fail need to look at themselves also. Their inaction over many decades allowed many of these killers to stay free.

    I don’t know the exact number of republican prisoners there has been of the years but at a guess I would say many hundreds. They called themselves POWS They have all been released. How many prisoners did this army take during the war. Not one. British soldiers and RUC officers unlucky enough to be captured by the provos were tortured and shot in the back of the head. This was simalar to what the SS did during WW2. No wonder the leadership of the republican movement are not keen to admit their involvement in the “war”

  • Dixie


    McGuinness is one of the very few to put his hand up about IRA involvement….

    Actually Fathomline McGuinness lied under oath to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that he had “left the IRA in the early part of the 1970s.”


    As for having the Thompson on Bloody Sunday, I don’t believe that for a moment even though I have no time for the man, and I doubt many in Derry believe a nameless tout that wouldn’t even appear at the tribunal.

  • Munsterview

    No need to be despairing cynic 2 : all colonised countries have two post conflict narratives; that of the Colonizing power and their planted stock, the other of the Native Peoples.

    They are usually inreconcileable !

    Regrets for the confusion and despair : it is temporary, the Native Narrative is the prevailing one in the Twenty Six Counties and West of the Ban. It is the version also held by mainstream European history regarding events on this Island.

    I suggest you starting googling headings like British Imperialism plus Rebellion. You will be quite surprised to find that there were quite a few like Machine Gun McGuiness out there in the former Empire!
    Indeed British activity left them no other route to power other than by the gun to begin with!

    There were also more than a few like you but they seem to fade from history a decade or two after the reversion of power to the Native populace….. pleas let my know if you find out what happened to them.

    I suggest that you start with ‘Good Old Smithy’ and what ..used to be called Rhodesia….. I think that you will like him!

  • Munsterview

    Sorry Mick gone off before I see your request!

  • Alan N/ARDS

    I am one of those unionists who was willing to give McGuiness and co a chance. I thought maybe they were going to reach out to unionists, to make amends for the past. They even appointed an outreach worker to unionism. But to be honest I really don’t believe them when they say want to understand unionists of all shades. McGuiness is not the man I thought he was. He talks the talk but I’m afraid he has no time for unionists or indeed protestants, especially the families of those murdered by the provos.

  • Granni Trixie

    To try to ‘draw a line’ over the past I can thole McGuinness in his present position but when he speaks about what was wrong about Bloody Sunday the double standards brings the wrong the IRA did all back to me. If he has any sensitivity at all he will not muddy the waters by saying too much – anyway the families themselves show leadership beyond politics,articulating the moral rightness of their cause.

  • mark

    I don’t think there’s an either/or here as Saville doesn’t have a version of the machine gun story.

    “probably armed … it is possible that he fired … there is insufficient evidence”

    So it’s perfectly possible to agree with the much more concrete elements of the report while believing McGuinness that he wasn’t in possession and didnt fire.

    Personally, I think it’s perfectly possible that he did handle the gun, perhaps even probable – although I have no basis to say so other than that the IRA had guns and he was in charge.

    But the only relevant point was whether the PIRA, or OIRA, fired first and therefore incited the paras response, and Saville is clear they did not.

    Whether he’s comes out better or worse from this; I honestly think the answer is no different.

    If, Saville had put any causal blame on the IRA for what happened on the day however, I do think his standing with nationalists wouldve been damaged.

    As it stands he is exonerated from any direct fault in BS but potentially implicated as a member of the IRA – which he freely admits he was – and the IRA had guns.

    i.e. no real change.

  • mark

    At the risk of going slightly off topic here, I’m pretty sympathetic to the last few comments from Alan N/Ards and Granni Trixie.

    I’m from Derry, catholic and broadly nationalist. I also think it’s reasonable for anyone affected by violence to be demanding that the perpetrators step up to the plate and apologise for their actions where it is clear they were wrong.

    Granni Trixie’s point makes me think: “the families themselves show leadership beyond politics,articulating the moral rightness of their cause”.

    Equally, Rev Dr Norman Hamilton, Rev Paul Kingston and Dr Ken Good have shown great leadership in meeting with the families on Wednesday and were warmly applauded by the Bogside residents.

    There’s an opportunity here for all sides to make steps towards reconciliation.

    Our more hardline politicians have shown little willingness to respond to calls from the ‘other side’, whatever they may be – so perhaps the answer is for us to start putting pressure on our own community’s leaders to make the first move or step aside and let us get on with things.

    It would certainly take some amount of bravery but the moral highground may be the one thing left worth fighting for.

  • I said I thought the Saville Report would make no difference to Martin McGuinness and that is what I believe, however I will try to explain why:

    Martin McGuinness and senior members of SF polarize opinion. The British government and army polarize opinion, and Saville brings these two highly combustible groups together and it too polarizes opinion.

    So many people have been hurt and all of them are examining reopened wounds. It is ludicrous to think the pain will begin to heal in the space of a few days. For now people will cling to what they know and find security there. To that extent Martin McGuinness core vote is unchanged.

    In fact I think Martin McGuinness is more likely to lose votes over the UK City of Culture bid than Saville. Some Unionists have given him grudging respect, he may lose some of that, but he had not yet won their votes and most knew what to expect from Saville they will not be surprised.

    I think his biggest threat is Infliction. If this person exists, and charges are bought against the paras he/she could be made to testify, albeit behind a screen. Even worse what if Infliction decides to sell his story…

  • ernie

    alan n/ards
    very good points you make .

  • Sorry! Broadband cut off the last sentence:

    Historically? Its unlikely to make much difference. For the same reasons outlined above and because whilst BS means a lot to us, it is just one of many atrocities committed during the troubles. Martin McGuinness may not be responsible for BS but he has as many secrets to keep as the Brits or the Loyalists.

  • I thought I’d qualified my answer enough earlier (@3:39pm) but if not – in the light of history (to take Eamonn’s phrase), this will not be part of the history of Bloody Sunday but of the Saville Inquiry and perhaps illustrates a contemporary perception of Martin McGuinness (by his opponents) more than it either would enhance or diminish his reputation. In terms of the attitude of various peer groups (republicans, Derry people, the fly-fishing congregations) – I doubt it will have any bearing on their opinions.

    The comic caricature first depicted by ‘Infliction’ (publicly by 2001 or so) of a tormented McGuinness confessing to firing shots that were returned by the Paras (thus precipitating all 14 deaths) comes straight from the standard FRU (or whatever Intel group) v1.0 toolkit for black propaganda. That this story had some rough edges shaved off through the course of Saville has the hallmarks of one of two possibilities: (a) that ‘Infliction’ is various bits of aggregated intelligence jigsawed into a persona for the purposes of black propaganda (hence the story changed over time to fit its required function); or, (b) if ‘Infliction’ is genuine, s/he is/was progressing the route of the ‘I Shot JR’ informant formula (a la Sean O’Callaghan) although in reverse, since O’Callaghan’s claims summitted rather than downclimbed.

    Either way, a significant amount of emphasis is being placed on this extraordinarily minor aspect of Saville (admittedly, though, only really in the press in NI and one or two English papers). The fact that McGuinness is singled out for such emphasis against the backdrop of an event in which he didn’t really have a role provides a historical paradox – otherwise would any history of the events on Bloody Sunday itself really give any space to what he did or where he was? So, if that emphasis is a measure of reputation, then I’d guess Martin McGuinness’ is pretty much enhanced.

  • Dixie

    Marty was over in Liverpool today supporting Derry’s bid for UK city of Culture while only a few months ago his SF colleagues in the town were kicking up a fuss about it.

    A bit like when he was posing with the Israeli ambassador with Gerry while his SF colleagues in the South were looking for the Israeli ambassador down there kicked out head first.

  • Munsterview

    I will not presume to speak for the non Nationalist side of this argument.

    From the Nationalist viewpoint in this Island the answer is probably no great change in status one way or the other. In some respects the demarciation lines between attitudes are drawn as firmly here as they are in the Unionist side but they are only clearly evident from within the culture and the nuances are not as clearly evident from the outside.

    Broadly speaking there are three views on Armed Struggle, the first, those who see it as a legitimate tactic, the use of which was justified. The extreme of this view was summed up by a statement on the lead up to the Ceasefire attributed to a certain hardline IRA Area O/C who held that the Brits should be bombed all the way to the conference table and then the table ( and all around it ) bombed !

    The second and totally opposed view to this was best summed up by Daniel O”Connell who held that the Freedom of Ireland was not worth shedding one drop of blood for. A conjunction of forces and circumstances made this a majority view in the First Quarter of the Nineteenth Century.

    The Brits soon put paid to that idea and threatened Dan with his own Bloody Sunday. The Catholic Church and Nationalism combined to organize a series of mass rallies, the biggest of their day in Europe in various parts of Ireland culminating with a Monster rally of over a million people planned for the Ancient Hill Of Tara.

    The Brits send in the Paras of the Day; Gunboat up the river and threatened to shell the gathering if it took place. Dan backed down and called off the meeting. Catholic Europe was as helpful to Dan in bringing pressure to bear on England for her denial of full citizenships rights to the Irish Catholics, as the current EU is in pressuring Israel for the rights of Palestinians. Dan was afterwards seen by all sides as a toothless tiger.

    Nationalism by means of Peace alone was afterwards principally advocated by The Catholic Church and wealthy propertied Catholic Classes like Daniel O’Connell’s own uncle and Clan Head, Old Hunting Cap.

    One ships cargo of smuggled goods owned by Hunting Cap and seized by the English Customs in a South Kerry harbor was worth around ten million in current values and was the only ship so lost of over a dozen that got through that year! Even John O’dohoghue’s famed expenses were only loose change compared to the profit on one hundred and twenty-million of smuggled cargo!

    The O’Connell, the O’Connor Dons etc sure as hell wanted peaceful means only, the last thing they and the Church wanted was to risk unleash forces that could bring about social revolution as in France.

    Brits out certainly but themselves and their Prod ascendancy social equivalent friends in, to fill the created political vacuum was as far as the social aspect of their New Ireland went. They were ambivalent to the Crown and could have lived with some Monarchial arrangement.

    The third view vacillated between the two extremes and was ambivalent about the use of violence : its application was tempered by the effectiveness of its use rather than any moral considerations.

    The armalight and ballot box had it’s 19 cen equivalent in the Torch and Ballot Box! Nationalism and social change in agrarian matters were advanced by day by all peaceful and allowed democratic means : by night many of these same people collected in Whiteboy and Moonlighting bands etc to use force and terrorism against selected targets such as Landlord’s Agents, Bailiffs, and their Native henchmen who used Crown laws favoring the Ruling Class to prevent social progress.

    These are the three main stream Political Legacies in Ireland extending into the Twenty-First Century from Nationalist history, within which Republicanism, Nationalism and Political Roman Catholicism operate. The latter like the Free Masons prefer to let the effect of their actions materialize unclaimed, satisfied with achievement per se in furtherance of their goal as the only necessary ( or worthwhile) action of their political intervention.

    To answer O’Mallie’s question posed. within this context : the first group respect his revolutionary years but to them he has sold out and he has long since been lumped in with the enemy forces. So no change there!

    To the second group : they were opposed to the Armed action while it was happening and they will not retrospectively sanction that, it is not their legacy. However Martin’s Democratic Institutional building and peaceful politics post ceasefire have won him respect in the present and served to distance him from the past. Qualified approval, some enhancement for having participated but overall no significant change !

    The third and largest group : those ambivalent to the use of armed force. War to them was a continuation of politics by other means.

    Stage one, the armalight and the bomb forced open the closed ranks of politics to them on their terms and not those of the excluding enemies.

    Stage two : Armed Force ensured an inclusion of their politics objectives in the equation that otherwise would be absent.

    Stage three : the use of Armed Force became an impediment to and a drain of resources to political achievement necessitating its discontinuance as it had accomplished its task of establishing politics as the main means of implementing objectives and achieving change.

    Add up all the Volunteers that past through the IRA during the recent conflict, their immediate families, their extended families, the communities that supported them, those of the second group that tolerated their activities to the extent that they would not inform against them and the now youth of this generation….. how many in all ?

    Simple, the total of the recent Sinn Fein vote plus possibly another 15% ( give or take maybe 4%) who did not bother to vote for whatever reason. This third group know Martins past, they measure that against what the State did, they know his present as they do those who attempt to wag fingers of lily white hands at him from Unionist politics having incited others to violence on their own side and then excused it , etc.

    To them he was a Republican leader and hero back then in Bloody Sunday, he has been all the time since and he will continue to be in the future. If anything he will have grown in stature with this group; his judgement in going before Savill was called into question, many disagreed with his participation back then but the result has justified his actions.

    With this third group and especially with his own Derry people he was the guy that looked the Brits in the eye across the polished table with the same unfaltering gaze as he once may have looked down the barrel of a gun at the uniformed manafestitation of that same force. I know Derry and if anything he will walk the taller among his own people and can justifiably take some credit for encouraging participation by personal example and accordingly the result!

    From this third group he can but emerge with enhanced credibility!

  • aquifer

    6McGuinness has serious questions to answer about the Thompson, like why the hell he didn’t turn it on the Paras’

    The Thompson is a very inaccurate weapon, the Self Loading Rifles carried by the Paras are not, and there were a lot of Paras about, angry at one of their own shot in Belfast days previously. Paras are assault troops who will shoot off a lot of ammunition quickly and who are not expected to survive more than a few hours in battle on average. They could be expected to pursue anyone taking a potshot at them and to eliminate them.

    The qualities that enable them to aggressively engage and enemy shooting at them in a battle may also make them a threat to their families. Emotional stability and control are not required qualifications. Throwing yourself at a well armed enemy is hardly rational.

    Why were such troops placed armed at a civilian demonstration could be a better question.

    And maybe Martin could answer it if he chose.

  • Mick Fealty

    Look, those who didn’t know before that Martin was a gunman know it now, even if all they have to prove it is a shadow on Saville’s forensically curated wall.

    Will it enhance his reputation? Well, overall and in itself, I doubt it. As Munsterview says above it will do him no harm at the base, since none of this will be a surprise to them.

    But it’s not exactly helpful for the job he is trying to do now, as deputy First Minister and possibly First Minister in the near future.

    However there was a chink of light, even as he was forced to deny it, when he said something along the lines of “I was a younger man then, I was only 21′. Not regret, but a recognition we (and he) are not now where we were then. You get the sense that the man, if not his party, has somewhere ‘between the stirrup and the ground: mercy sought and mercy found’.

    What’s needed more broadly is some sort of ‘redemption’ but in the strictly secular and political sense, rather than religious. For instance, Cameron’s had his transformative moment precisely because he owned the terrible wrong done the relatives.

    Some of the hawks in Britain, like Amanda Platell on BBC Question Time last night, refuse to acknowledge that it was the lies the British told immediately afterwards as much as the brutality of the deaths that cut to the core of her adopted country’s perfidy and shame on this.

    In that regard, Cameron understood early on what Saville offered him and he took it with both those nicely manicured, old Etonian hands.

    Regardless of the nature of party political belief most will accept that none of our local politicians (or at least those in the two leading parties) have such simple means of extricating themselves from their ‘complicated’ pasts, as that as that tediously circular piece of ‘whataboutery’ between Nelson McCausland and Gerry Kelly last night can testify.

    In the melee, everyone (including most of his own party) seems to be ignoring Peter Robinson’s simple suggestion that a book be opened to victims and perpetrators to account for the past in their own terms. There is no more money in the pot for expensive commissions, and criminal actions against some perpetrators are ruled out by dint of the Belfast and subsequent agreements.

    The terrible events of the past (and Bloody Sunday is just one of many tragedies of those terrible years) are still shackling us from grasping the future with both hands. As Peter Hain said on Question Time: “We can’t keep dragging Northern Ireland back to the past, or it will get stuck there”.

    Moving the two lead parties into Stormont Castle together clearly has not been the transformative moment many would have have liked. And whilst the Masserene condemnation was enough to rightly earn Martin Politician of the Year in the Slugger Awards, something needs done that provides us with some wider societal form of transformation/redemption.

    Until that comes, this story will be just another, albeit slight, drag on the reputation of a man who is temperamentally very well suited to the job he has acquired, but who still cannot quite shake off the paramilitary dust of his past.

  • I think you have to be jesuitical in the extreme to follow that logic, Mick. While official British circles and some unionists ‘discovered’ the truth of Bloody Sunday this week, they merely acknowledged what has been the internationally accepted narrative that has been around for the intervening 38 years. Similarly, McGuinness was in a broadcast interview as an IRA member from the early 1970s and acknowledged his position officially in 2001. Again, only someone taking the narrowest of routes into Saville could pretend that the release of the report represented ‘new’ information.
    Neither did Cameron even manage to extricate himself or HMG from this mess at all – that may come from the prosecution service review of the shootings, Widgery etc – but that may providing more squeaky bum days for the government. The government had had the report on Saville for a considerable amount of time and Cameron’s response, while sincere sounding, was pretty much the minimum he could get away with on the day (again ignoring the 38 year/195m route to that point).
    In terms of truth processes, the precedent set by Saville is not clear at all. There can’t be room for ‘Infliction’-type sources in a genuine truth commission. Anonymity for the soldiers was a different issue and, if there are grounds for prosecutions, they will no doubt lose that. Perhaps the web is the only possible space for a truth process here – victims and their families/friends can request an incident be documented (i.e. so it is not just for those who died) and the various stakeholders challenged to provide an account by the perpetrators (which some moderator or other can excise for names etc). The victims/families can then request further information/direct questions to the perpetrators (who would have to have anonymity until they decide to forego it – otherwise few would engage). The victims/family can then decide if it becomes part of a public (on-line) archive. But that all would be subject to what the purpose of the process is intended to be – if it is to try and achieve some level of closure fine, but there are many who will never stop demanding punitive justice.

  • Mick Fealty

    There is not going to be a genuine truth commission John, international or otherwise. And there can be no more Savilles. The 2005 Enquiry Act shut that door finally and absolutely.

    Nor can we expect any other kind of useful truth commission, since people like Martin and Gerry are sworn to secrecy unto death, and most of the more unhelpful witnesses are either dead or living in another country. Not being democratically accountable there are no paper records either.

    As for Infliction, if you read the judgement Saville places no particular value on the agent himself, but only notes that much of the testimony given by his handers Officer A and Officer B is corroborated elsewhere. Indeed because of this he places higher value on what Infliction has to say than a respected public citizen like Ivan Cooper.

    Most importantly, Saville exonerates McGuinness from having any role in the deaths of the people in the Bogside that day.

  • Rory Carr

    Mick, I accept Saville’s findings as I read them. “McGuinness may have been seen carrying a Thompson sub-macine gun”. Saville also speculates that he “may or may not” have fired this weapon which he may have carried. He considers however that, even had he carried a weapon and even had he used it (of which he admits there can be no surety) this could have had no effect on the actions of the soldiers.

    I do however also know that the Provisional IRA in Derry that Sunday were under strict orders for arms to be secured and for volunteers not to engage with the army.

  • Rory Carr

    Apologies for much of my reply appearing in bold. This is one of those occasions when one regrets the loss of the review option.

  • sam

    The conclusion I came to from the Saville inquiry was that it was damn sight safer to wander about with a Thompson sub – machine gun on Bloody Sunday than be an innocent bystander in the middle thousands of rioters

  • Clanky

    I think that anyone with half a grain of sense knew that Martin McGuinness was the commander of the IRA in Derry at the time and as such was very likely to have been armed at the time. So really I don’t see that these “new” revelations will really change anything,

    Even the majority of unionists seem to have accepted that the only way forward for the people of the North of Ireland is to accept (or at least to ignore) what people were or have done in the past and to move on. I don’t think that Saville claiming that McGuinness was probably armed on Bloody Sunday is really going to change anyones opinions, it will just give a few people an excuse to make the same tired old points again.

  • Rory Carr

    Alan N/Ards,

    I know of at least one RUC officer who was held by an IRA unit after he quite unwittingly surprised them at rest in a safe house following an attack upon the army in Tyrone (he had been calling to deliver notice of a traffic violation to the owner of the house who was not a volunteer). He was brought across the border and held in a safe house there. He was treated very well indeed and made to feel at ease, even being brought on a fishing trip after giving his word not to attempt escape. He was released unharmed after a few weeks.

    I know that this treatment was because of his reputation in his policing area as “a decent oul’ skin” and it was early on in the conflict. He may not have been so fortunate or treated so well later on.

    By that last remark you may guage that I accept your claims as regards the general record of the killing of prisoners. While I recognise that there are different standards and different expectations of behaviour of a guerilla army in rebellion against a state than from conventional law-bound forces, I nevertheless also find it reprehensible that the IRA resorted to such a tactic. I find it morally reprehensible by which I mean that I could not do it nor could I sanction it, but nor will I dictate to those then so engaged what their moral standards might be in such desperate times.

    I would however hope that they might recognise that such killing was indeed wrong and I would hope that such admission that it was wrong might go some way to healing wounds and to advancing the move towards peace and community cohension.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ve fixed it. We’ve been waiting on today’s release of WordPress3.0 to fix that. But it is on the list.

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  • Alan N/ARDS

    McGuiness and the republican movement need to step up to the plate show a bit of decency and admit their past actions. It no good saying that we have all hurt each other because that is not the case. Many people did not get involed in the troubles. The vast majority on both sides kept their heads down and and got on with life. The provos, uvf and uda showed little mercy to any of their enemies.

    Martin McGuiness is now in a senior position in NI. He needs to do what Cameron did and apologise for the inhumane treatment handed out by his “soldiers” to many innocent people. You cannot campaign for justice for the innocent of Bloody Sunday and ignore the innocent people targeted by people under his command. You cannot cry that shoot to kill policies were common place here by the British when your own army showed no mercy whatsoever to the enemy. The two corporals is just one example of ira barbarity. I accept that every ira member was not guilty of war crimes but he was a senior member of this organisation and he and people like him need to start showing some compassion to former enemies if this island is ever to move on.

    While we are on the subject about the paras does anyone remember Para Sergeant Mick Willets. He was on duty in Sprinfield Rd police station on May 25th 1971 when an ira man threw a suitcase with 30lbs of gelignite into the station. A group of catholic civillians, 4 ladies and 3 children were standing just inside the entrance. The bomber had to have seen them but still carried out the attack. Sergeant Willetts sacrificed his own life to save them by placing himself between the bomb and them. A two year old boy recieved a fractured skull. As he was being taken out of the station to the ambulance a mob of youths bravely shouted obsenities at the dying Mick Willets. Not all of the paras are like the ones who opened fire on Bloody Sunday.

  • Munsterview

    Within most World Armed Forces, the Paratroops are regarded as the elite unit of the Army requiring standards of fitness, stamina, determination, courage etc far above and beyond ordinary soldiers. In comparative terms the British Paras are close to the top of the pile, of world class soldiers as it is possible to be and any commentator cannot dismiss them as a collection of tugs or armed gangsters and expect to be taken seriously.

    Just as there are high standards expected from these soldiers in other areas, discipline is no exception, indeed they are usually exemplars of it when engaged in military activities !

    I personally do not believe that there was a breakdown of military discipline by the Paras on that day. I also know something of Republican Leadership thinking on the matter from that period : it was both appreciated and anticipated well before Bloody Sunday that there could, and probably would be a large scale planned killing instigated by the British Army as part of a strategy to involve the IRA in a crossfire situation where the resulting innocent casualties could be laid on the shoulders of the IRA.

    This was not exactly rocket science : some of Brigadier Frank Kitson’s lectures were available in certain IRA circles well before the split, young and upcoming Republican Leaders like the late Martin O’Leary killed while defending workers rights in Tipperary and Seamus Costello were very much aware of his strategies and methodologies.

    This was well before the split and the Provo reorganization, International Revolutionaries and Intellectual opponents of the Right were watching this developing counter-insurgency field closely and supplying details to Irish Republican Sources. Intel is and always was a two way process !

    The following is Kitson’s from as early as the sixties……..

    PHASE II. Nonviolent disorder–mass meetings, marches, strikes– requires persuading multitudes to do something. This phase focuses on crowds, usually in cities. Kitson suggests a “…judicious promise of concessions [to split the many from S&I leaders, while] imposing …calm by the use of government forces [then announcing] that most of the concessions can only be implemented once…life…returns to normal” (p 87). Civilians must look upon troops with “…respect and awe…. If an impression can be built that although [they] have used little force so far, they might at any moment use a great deal more, the people will be wary and…fewer men will be needed” (p 90).

    For further information on this document click on


    The march planned for what later became known as Bloody Sunday fulfilled all the criteria for such a staged shootout encounter with a local Insurgency Armed Group. It is now no great secret that on the Provo IRA side extraordinary precautions were taken to remove all military materials such as guns, grenades and bombs from the march route. Senior IRA people may have had personal protection weapons on the day but they were few and far between !

    As for Martin McGuiness toting around a Tompson sub-machine gun : this would have not been the weapon of choice for any experienced IRA volunteer, much less Senior Officer.

    I know that minds are already made up on this matter but one last appeal to reason here : if all weapons had been removed from the area and put out of reach of Volunteers for the duration of the march and it’s aftermath, for the reasons given, why on earth would a senior figure like Martin have personal carriage of a weapon so closely identified with the IRA, that if taken from him by security forces and discharged in to the crowd, would have wrecked absolute havoc?

    Would he have risked that? Would other senior figures involved in the clear out of war material have allowed him to go around so armed?

    We now know something of what happened in Bloody Sunday in relation to the cold clinical facts of who shot who and where : this is but a small part of the answers to outstanding questions from that day.

    If there was indeed a Kitson scenario going down, then the ready admission by Cameron and the account by Savill is but another careful damage limitation exercise to cover a truth too terrible to be aired even after four decades.

    For some of us in the Republican side that have taken the trouble to get to know the mind of our enemy and his minions, there is no great surprise in that, none at all !

  • For some of us in the Republican side that have taken the trouble to get to know the mind of our enemy and his minions, there is no great surprise in that, none at all !

    And what of that Republicanised mind and it Future Vision? Who is free, willing and able to share and expound clearly on its superstructure and deliver it passionately with constructive industry and innovative enterprise ……. or are you waiting on that being delivered to you via a third party Intelligence Organ/Foreign and Alien Office of CyberIntelAIgent Securities?

  • Munsterview


    What I have written speaks for itself to those of average intelligence, there are many voices on the other side that could have come out to play on this one, they refused and not for the first time either !

    They did not do so because if engaged within the parameters I had framed this debate, Bloody Sunday would then be examined in the context of other post Second WW Colonial struggles and the responses of the British Armed Forces, guided and directed by British Intel Services in that past quarter of a century, to those mass demonstrations of native peoples.

    This is how it is seen Internationally, that report of Savills will sit also in the shelves of Military Colleges and lectures will be given as to the consequences of what can happen if such a mass killing is staged and the Insurgency Army do not engage.

    An ancestral relative of mine of the same name had his English lodgings searched and dispatches copied while he was in negotiation with the English opponents of the house of Tutor in late Elizabethan Era.

    The ruse worked, Cicil’s agents went off in a very expensive Wild Goose chase and considerable Crown energies were misdirected from their foccus on where the real allies of The House Of Desmond were.

    This game did not start for some of us with Bloody Sunday, I had been an active Rebublican from my late teens in the end of the sixties. The take of another elderly realitive at the time of the Battle of the Bogside : ” It will be all over now in five years one way or the other or it will take fifty. If it goes over five then you had better plan your life around it in as much as you will have a life with it ”

    For some of us in Revolutionary Ireland this has been a long game with wide horizons, for others it was all happening in a porto-cabin hut on the side of a windswept hill in Drumcree : their vision of the future extended no further than the end of the Orange March they were on and the next one planned after that.

    How much difference is between that Drumcree Hut mentality and that of the likes of Sammy Wilson? How many do they speak for and what can they offer by way of New Politics for a New Ireland on this Island that the mass of the ordinary people so desperately need ?

    As for the future Mars……. do not worry over much about it, you and others like you will get a wake up call when we arrive!

  • “As for the future Mars……. do not worry over much about it, you and others like you will get a wake up call when we arrive!” …. Munsterview says: 19 June 2010 at 4:51 pm

    We’ll leave something behind to take care of you then, Munsterview. Time in Present CyberSpace waits for No Man and Women in the Future.

  • Munsterview

    Attempted diversion from the usual knuckle draggers may be limited and transparent but at least it is an honest, instinctive emotional, gut reaction.

    Yours however and that of people like you, while apparently more sophisticated, is no different, in behind the tomfoolery lies the same subtle purpose.

    Do not work with our side any more : did you not know that while the old meaning of Sinn Fein has been maintained for public consumption the real meaning of SF these days is ‘ Stay Focussed ‘ !

    Nice try but no takers!

    However if I have over estimated your capacities, then my apologies, you may be indeed be part of the genuine ‘ Space Cadet Core ‘ out there!

    If so and you are lucid enough to comprehend this communication, please try to avail of some advice in regard to having your medication changed, the current prescription do not seem to be working particularly well, if at all !

  • “However if I have over estimated your capacities, then my apologies, you may be indeed be part of the genuine ‘ Space Cadet Core ‘ out there!

    If so and you are lucid enough to comprehend this communication, please try to avail of some advice in regard to having your medication changed, the current prescription do not seem to be working particularly well, if at all !” ….. Munsterview says: 19 June 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Having perfectly understood and accepted your comprehensive communication, a misunderestimation would be a sound diagnosis on your part and probably also prove prescription efficacy on the other part.

    Does Irish Republicanism have a genuine ‘ Space Cadet Core ‘ out there? And do they know and care for what they are doing ?

    Two leading questions there, Munsterview, for you have surely well enough answered the first boldly yourself. Bravo. Encore.

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  • Munsterview

    Inquest details please ?

    If not this is just another personal opinion presented as fact without one shred of evidence to back it up.

    As the saying goes talk is cheap!

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