Martin McGuinness was on RTE’s Late Late show on Friday (about 35 minutes in). It was a pretty benign interview: he denounced the behaviour of some of the Christian Brothers in his school describing some CB’s behaviour as making it like a “Concentration Camp.” (it is unclear how he describes kidnapping, torturing and murdering people). He then went on to explain his decision to join the IRA as due to the brutality of the RUC: all pretty usual stuff with lots about murders by the British. He described the Birmingham pub bombings as shocking and horrible but unsurprisingly did not condemn them.
He did manage to say that Enniskillen was wrong but then rewrote history by claiming that the IRA had apologised for it: odd considering that the IRA accused the British Army of setting off the bomb by mistake until it was proved that a timing device had been used. He also claimed that he dedicated his life to ending the conflict and uniting Ireland only by peaceful means which is a truly stunning piece of revisionism.
The only time McGuinness had any trouble was when he was asked whether Gerry Adams was in the IRA and he seemed unable to say one way or another, though he did not say that he did not know.
Despite claiming not to be bitter he said that he was not enamoured of a visit from the Queen and that he had not heard her or her sons apologise for Bloody Sunday. Predictably McGuinnes’s comments have raised unionist hackles: Gregory Campbell and Danny Kennedy’s comments are in the News Letter;
“This comment means that a person who has openly admitted to being involved in an organisation whose specific purpose was to murder and maim, namely the Provisional IRA, but who has never publicly apologised for his involvement in that failed campaign, has asked for an apology from the Queen.”
“the hypocrisy of this statement has clearly been lost on Martin McGuinness…Hopefully this hypocrisy will do nothing to mar the first visit of the Queen to that country, particularly when Mary McAleese, the president of the Irish Republic, has been asked to make no similar such apology for the part her country’s government played in the creation of the IRA, despite her numerous visits to this country.”
Danny Kennedy said he found the comments to be
“deeply offensive and insulting given that the organisation in which Martin McGuinness was an activist and leading member, the IRA, murdered Lord Louis Mountbatten, HM Queen’s uncle, and countless members of HM Queen’s security forces and citizens”… Once again the mask or balaclava of the deputy first minister slips to reveal his true feelings of bitterness and hatred of all things British….It is clear that the sneering and hostile attitude of Martin McGuinness to the Royal family, and HM Queen in particular, continues to act as a serious barrier to genuine reconciliation, not only within the NI executive or assembly, but throughout the entire community.”