Martin McGuinness: “I wasn’t a member of the IRA when that happened…”

Sinn Féin’s candidate in the Irish Presidential election, Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA, told RTÉ’s This Week programme yesterday that

“If people want to examine my record, let them examine my record.  I stand on my record.”

But not before McGuinness declined the invitation by Colm O’Mongain for full disclosure of his role in the Provisional IRA, and quoting Tony Blair, [but not Jonathan Powell? – Ed] and citing meetings with US Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, and, of course, Nelson Mandela. 

Today Martin McGuinness has complained about a media fixation with his past.

Mr McGuinness accused the media of being fixated about his past and sensational headlines about his time in the IRA.

“I remember I think it was 1974, I am open to correction but I think it was the early 1970s, an ITN reporter reported that I had boasted about killing eight soldiers in the Free Derry area, that was a total and outright lie,” he said.

“I would say if I get into answering question for question the questions of the media in that regard, I will be answering those from now until kingdom come.”

He’s deployed the ‘fixation’ defence before.  Notably during the Saville Inquiry.  As a BBC report from 2003 mentions

The Mid Ulster MP accused the inquiry of being fixated by his past.

But he added: “I left the IRA in the early part of the 1970s.”

That date is narrowed down to 1974 in this BBC profile.  Whether anyone believes it is a different matter.  As the UTV report notes

“I’ve never hidden the fact that I was in the IRA and I told the Saville tribunal that I left the IRA in late 1974,” Mr McGuinness said. “So that’s my position.”

By-passing a great chunk of the 20th Century may have been the unofficial agreement between certain interested parties here, but it seems unwise to test that in a Presidential election.

As David Norris found out, you can’t cherry-pick your record and expect others not to question your self-selected, and self-serving, account.  [Even if they are stupid questions? – Ed]  Indeed.

Outside of his northern comfort zone, Martin McGuinness can expect the questioning of his past to continue if he wants to be President of Ireland.  As RTÉ’s Tommie Gorman says in the audio clip from This Week.

“In many respects it’s a moment of truth for Sinn Féin.”

  • AGlassOfHine

    “It is not for disputation, Barnshee. It is merely a recitation of your subjective impression of events heavily overlaiden by your own political bias. Only you can come to realisation of its true value, and, in that, I wish you well.”

    Irony much,Rory ?

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk


    Correct me if I’m wrong but you claim that “Loyalist” murders were all reactive.

    If you actually bother to do some research (try google yourself). People like John Gregg (UDA) and Shankill butcher Lennie Murphy were noted even within their own community for their vitriolic hatred of Catholics – simply for being Catholics.

    They simply enjoyed sadistically killing Catholics. If your rubbish viewpoint held up – they would have targetted active Republicans – have you ever heard of the phrase “Yabba Dabba Doo, any Taig will do”?

    It was a common phrase in the UDA/UFF – kill any Catholic, men women or children.

    There were murders of Catholics in the mid 60s long before the PIRA started their campaign – what was that reacting to?

    Lets be clear – I unreservedly condemn any and all terrorism. Do you – yes or no?

    As for your insults – the fact that you have to resort to that speaks volumes about the calibre of your debating skills.

  • BluesJazz

    I think Lenny killed a few prods as well. But if, as you suggest,Monk…. he was a Martin Luther freak who despised the unreformed catholic religion. Then you have to ask why he thought that his religion was better than others.
    And was willing to kill to prove it. As were the Roman Catholic IRA, or the Muslim Al Queda, etc etc.

    How many murders in NI (or elsewhere) were committed by secular humanists?

  • Mark

    Bluejazz ,

    You should really go back and read MDWDH post . Whether Lenny thought his religion was better than RC , did that give him a right to take their life .

    Would you agree with MDWDH that the first paramilitary killings happened in the mid 60’s ? Who you happen to know which paramilitary group was responsible ?

  • Mark

    Pete ,

    I got an e mail from World press saying it was this comment on this thread that I recieved a yellow card for .

    I told Bluejazz he should go back and read MDWDH post . I posed a question about Lenny Murphy and asked a question about whether he was right to take a life . I then asked Bluejazz if he agreed with MDWDH in relation to killings in the 60’s . I finished with a question to Bluejazz about whether he knew who was responsible for that killing ……..

  • BluesJazz

    I did read his post.
    Lenny, and his PIRA conterparts, murdered people, not because of political outlook, but because of their religious beliefs.
    Monk’s point:
    “vitriolic hatred of Catholics – simply for being Catholics.”
    Nothing political there.
    It was a petty sectarian battle between *christians*. Much like Sunni and Shia *muslims* in Iraq.

    The sooner we shed all these absurd religious/mythical/mumbo jumbo beliefs, the sooner we can put politics back on a rational plane.

    But maybe you beg to differ?

  • BluesJazz

    dunno the yellow card, but arguing with the ref aint gonna work, so off the field i trot..

  • Mark

    Bluejazz ,

    I would say that in the North , political outlook and religious beliefs are one in the same .

    I agree with you when you say the sooner we shed all these etc etc etc , the sooner we can move on .

    On that I don’t beg to differ ………..

  • tomthumbuk


    OK I’ll try again.

    In relation to the comment I made regarding why you cannot or will not understand the points I make you would, I suggest calm down, and look at what I actually said as opposed to what you seem to believe I said.

    Firstly, I condemn all terrorism. No problem there.
    In relation to me allegedly saying that all loyalist killings were reactive.
    Well I stated that the 1966 killings were sectarian killings, were random acts by sectarian killers.
    I also stated that there were no murders by loyalist paramilitaries in 1970 and 1971, (look up Cain.)
    The UVF and UDA murder campaigns started in 1972, maybe a bizarre coincidence, but I think most people believe it was, as John Hume alluded to, a loyalist backlash. (remember I’ve a good memory).
    The fact that innocent Catholics were killed is an undisputed fact. Lenny Murphy was a psychopath who relished killing people,he killed more Protestants than Catholics.
    The situation at the time enabled such murderers to gain a prominence that normally would not exist in a normal society.
    He was the big shot on the Shankill, only because he was a ruthless killer.
    As to whether the killing of innocent Catholics was a strategy of Loyalist paramilitaries, well if you haven’t figured that out, where have you been,
    The policy was to terrorise the terrorist, and if you couldn’t get the terrorist get the family and if you couldn’t get the family “get a taig.”
    That’s the reality, the philosophy was that if you can terrorise the Catholic community then eventually the IRA will have to recognise the price their own community was having to pay was too much and they would be forced to consider an alternative strategy.
    As I said before many Loyalists believe that it worked.
    That’s not to say that I approved or considered that it was right, but the reality is that the IRA gave up their campaign and guns and eventually disbanded.
    If you believe that the endless cycle of tit for tat violence had nothing to do with it, that’s up to you, but I would suggest that common sense would say that it certainly had an influence on whether the IRA thought that their campaign of violence was worth it.
    Ok if you need anymore clarification just ask.

  • PJ Maybe

    He was there when it happened. He just didn’t inhale.

  • DC

    “I wasn’t a member of the IRA when that happened…”

    In other ‘news’, Medvedev nominates Putin for President.

    More later on that bear shitting in the woods and on Jack the Ripper being a lady’s man!

  • Barnshee

    “It is not for disputation, Barnshee. It is merely a recitation of your subjective impression of events heavily overlaiden by your own political bias. Only you can come to realisation of its true value, and, in that, I wish you well.”

    I see the bricks etc bouncing off the ground were just a “subjective impression” The paras running up william street are then just another ” impression”

    “your own political bias.” bias?

    1 March banned against best advice
    2 Marchers confront paras hurl abuse and worse at paras
    3 Army gets fed up sends in armed (fit young) soldiers
    4 Soldiers pissed off at treatment (soldiers and police murdered by bogsiders in prior period) murder some fleeing bogsiders
    5 Army hierarchy refuse to carry the can for ordering the paras —in tries to wriggle out by blaming the squaddies for “behaving reckessly”. Establishment backs army
    6 Years of prevarication and procrastination follow

    Bias? As I say I was only there what would I know
    The truth may hurt