Martin McGuinness: “but it bears all kinds of sinister connotations…”

There was a bizarre interruption in the Irish Times interview with the Sinn Fein candidate in the Irish Presidential race, Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA.  From the Irish Times report

TEN MINUTES into our interview, Martin McGuinness is beginning to set out how he’s been around a long time, when a shadow falls across the table.

We turn around and a large, hirsute man looms above, shaking a camán and warning, “You’d better not ask any hard questions.”

A smile as bright and wide as a piano keyboard breaks across the face of the bearded one. It is Gerry Adams, and he’s showing off a prize souvenir, a hurley with tell-tale black-and-amber tape.

Both men laugh and McGuinness says: “You are interrupting our flow.”

As it happened, he was addressing a germane question just before Adams appeared: wasn’t he aware before entering the race that awkward questions about his past would emerge?

[Would that be a ‘stupid’ question? – Ed]  Possibly…  Later in the interview Martin McGuinness repeated his lack of “recall” of the incident recounted by Peter Murtagh.  From the Irish Times report.

In The Irish Times last week, Peter Murtagh wrote that McGuinness had a prima facie case to answer on the Hegarty case amid allegations that he befriended the family in order to entice Frank home to Derry. Murtagh recalled being ushered out of the Hegarty house by two people to a car, where McGuinness told him it was not a good time to interview the family.

“I don’t even recall being sitting in a car outside, but it bears all kinds of sinister connotations which has no relationship with the engagement I had with the Hegarty family,” responds McGuinness.

Indeed it does, Martin.  [Perhaps he also doesn’t recall a more recent incident? – Ed]  Perhaps…

And, in the Irish Times report, he also repeats his threat to the Hegarty family of recounting his own version of events.

“The difficulty about this is that I have held my silence generally for all of that period. [My] only reason is out of respect for the Hegarty family. I could say a lot of things that are hurtful and I’m not prepared to say it, about how that situation was handled at that time and their own involvement in it.

“I know that places me at a disadvantage. That’s something I will have to live with. I can say without fear of contradiction that it’s a total misrepresentation.”

But the Hegarty family have already responded to that threat.

However, the sisters of Frank Hegarty, whose body was dumped on a lonely border road in May 1986, last night accused Mr McGuinness of talking “total rubbish”.

They told the MoS: “We don’t know what Martin McGuinness is talking about. How on earth could he possibly hurt us any more than he has already done?

“Martin McGuinness inflicted tremendous hurt on us when he falsely assured us it would be totally safe for our brother to meet the IRA, only for Frank then to be killed. The ultimate hurt was inflicted on us when Frank was murdered. We have been living with that hurt for 25 years.”

Speaking from their Derry home, the three sisters said Mr McGuinness was erecting a smokescreen to hide his role in events leading up to their brother’s murder.

“By claiming he cant give a comprehensive account of what happened because it would hurt us, Martin McGuinness is doing what Sinn Féin always does in difficult situations – using an excuse to avoid telling the truth.”

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  • Jimmy Sands

    The most sinister connotation seems to me the fact that strong arming reporters like this was such a commonplace occurrence that he wouldn’t necessarily remember one such incident.

  • redhugh78

    It’s rather strange but not surprising that the author of this piece makes no reference to the recent rte radio debate between Danny Morrison and Peter Murtagh (available here from 5mins 15 secs) where Morrison asks Murtagh, why then if this alleged incident took place he didn’t publish a story about it at the time, even host Pat kenny feels embarrassed for Murtagh being exposed.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I think you’ll find Anthony McIntyre did a pretty neat demolition job on that rather weak attempt at running interference. It’s like Morrison’s not even trying any more.

  • redhugh78

    Jimmy, I beg to differ, listen to the debate, if what Mc Intyre says is true, then why did Murtagh not take the opportunity to state on radio that he didn’t file the report because he felt intimidated.
    Not once does he say it, he says he doesn’t know why he never filed.
    He got his arse handed to him by Morrison.

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks for the link Red. Jimmy, could you reciprocate?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Sorry Mick

    http://thepensivequill.am/2011/10/scoops-not-filed.html

    I didn’t hear the radio exchange but there’s nothing here to suggest Murtagh claimed intimidation as the reason for not filing, but I’ll listen to the link.

  • Murtagh’s claims have been confirmed by Jim Cusack in the Sunday Independent:
    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/sf-attack-dog-mauls-journalist-over-story-on-mcguinness-meet-2893712.html

    McGuinness did not deny the events happened. He used a standard evasion of claiming to have no memory of them.

    SF’s standard get-out is to say any criticism of them is made by pro-‘Brit’ apologists.

    The agenda behind the cuts program being imposed through the Stormont regime on behalf of the capitalist ruling class is the fundamental issue behind the methods and strategy of McGuinness.

    While Sinn Fein huff and puff about the bankers in the style of a union bureaucrat, they offer no challenge to the capitalist economy. Or to the political superstructure that maintains this economy.

    Sinn Fein’s new turn into the cess pit of Dublin politics is oppourtunistic; exploiting the rejection of Fianna Fail.

    However, much more significant than the petty ambitions of the clutch SF politicos, is the desperate attempt by the Dublin ruling class to hide their true rule behind yet more barren nationalism.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Murtagh having memory problems, he couldn’t remember why the story he claims wasn’t filed. One possible reason is he was covering Stalker. That being the case why did he go to Derry in the first place?

  • Alias

    There is a more immediate explanation for not filing the story: McGuinness made it clear it was not in his best interests to file it. And given that Murtagh had just seen the calculated evil McGuinness was capable of inflicting on the Hegarty family, few would blame Murtagh for taking McGuinness’ menacing ‘advice’ seriously and putting his own safety before a ‘scoop.’

    So while Morrison might like to spin it that the story not being file supports McGuinness’ claims, it actually supports Murtagh’s claims.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jimmy

    ‘The most sinister connotation seems to me the fact that strong arming reporters like this was such a commonplace occurrence that he wouldn’t necessarily remember one such incident.’

    All sorts of allegations have been made against SF and the IRA throughout the years, many true, chillingly so, but this simply hasn’t been one of them. Funnily enough, the issue arose on Vincent Browne last week, and Vincent – no Shinner he – rebutted it more eloquently than I possibly could.

    http://www.tv3.ie/shows.php?request=tonightwithvincentbrowne&tv3_preview=&video=40566

    It’s at approximately the 37.00 mark.

    And from my own experience – comparatively trifling, but I was fortunate enough to work with a number of journalists whose experience would go even beyond that of the venerable Mr Browne – it simply wasn’t the MO of the IRA to intimidate journalists.

    Certainly, republicans have no great love of large sections of the media, for reasons that are not hard to understand. And I have no doubt that, if one were so minded, one could find some instance of it, during the last forty-plus years. But as I said, such an instance would be contrary to the general MO.

  • Alias

    That’s a strawman argument. No one has claimed that it was their MO so claiming it isn’t doesn’t rebutt the actual claim.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Alias

    Jimmy Sands said it was a ‘commonplace occurrence.’ In fact, it wasn’t – something to which some of the IRA’s most hostile media critics testify. (I have provided Vincent Browne as an example, from the past week.)

    How isn’t that a rebuttal?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Certainly, it doesn’t rebut Peter Murtagh’s story, but then, I never claimed to. I have no idea whether or not it’s true.

    I daresay most people will believe what they find convenient to believe.

  • Jimmy Sands

    “Jimmy Sands said it was a ‘commonplace occurrence.’”

    Not exactly. I said it would have to be for it to be so easily forgotten. I imagine had I behaved in such a fashion I would have little difficulty remembering it, unless of course it was routine.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Jimmy

    With all due respect, what you actually said is there in black and white.

    You said:

    ‘The most sinister connotation seems to me the FACT THAT THE STRONG ARMING OF REPORTERS WAS SUCH A COMMONPLACE OCCURRENCE that he wouldn’t necessarily remember one such incident. (My emphasis.)

    It may well have been that Murtagh and McGuinness simply had very different understandings of what was happening in the incident Murtagh describes. Murtagh may well have felt he was being, as you put it, ‘strong-armed,’ while at the same time, McGuinness may not have felt he was doing anything of the sort.

    Rather like our discussion here: I might feel that the key element of what’s going on here is that you are being slippery and disingenuous, while I daresay you don’t feel my characterisation of the incident is fair at all.

  • Mark

    Just waiting for a picture of Fintan O Toole with eighty tins of pedigree chum to appear on the front of the Irish times under the caption …… WE FOUND SHERGAR AND GUESS WHOSE FINGERPRINTS ARE ON THE TINS …….sort of ? .

  • Jimmy Sands

    “McGuinness may not have felt he was doing anything of the sort.”

    If only he could remember.

  • between the bridges

    Mark, re shergar it couldn’t be the same man, whoever used the Tommy gun on shergar managed (eventually) to hit the target…
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1576718/The-truth-about-Shergar-racehorse-kidnapping.html

    Let’s say another of the candidates had tried to ‘influence’ a journalist would it not be a valid story?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    BtB

    Any political party worth its salt tries to influence journalists. They all employ whole teams of people to do just that. And it’s a worthwhile investment, as the vast majority of journalists tend to be highly influenceable. Indeed, most journalists I’ve ever known spend their lives looking for some powerful establishment interest that will exercise influence over them.

    This is true generally, but there is honestly nowhere that it is more true than in Dublin

    Sad to say, but the Republic of Ireland is a very corrupt society. The media is among the most corrupt sectors in said society. The builders, the bankers, the politicians and the church have all been exposed in recent years – and not, natch, by Dublin-based journalists. But the media is another sector ripe for a reckoning.

    (I would add that some of the most bitter and sanguine critics I know, of journalism in Dublin, are journalists in Dublin. There’s nothing inevitable about the corruption of the Irish media, nor is there a shortage of talent.)

  • Mark

    Mr B ,

    Someone told me that M15 had ghost written a book called the Informer about the life of an IRA man called Sean O Callaghan . I got a lend from a pal and it’s a hoot ….makes Harry Potter look like Panorama ..

    Investigations stared to mark an anniversary normally spell trouble and shouldn’t be taken seriously . And who brings a machine gun to kidnap a horse ?

    Don’t be surprise if O Callaghan is dragged out in the next 3 weeks to confirm a rumour / story .

  • between the bridges

    BP, cheers for your ‘reason’s to support the union!!’
    anyway as I am sure you realized I meant ‘influence’ as in ‘The interview was over. Ended by McGuiness and his two heavies.’

  • Billy Pilgrim

    BtB

    On the contrary, it’s all the more reason to support the reunification of our country! Our compatriots to the south are really struggling, without our good, solid, Ulster sense.

  • between the bridges

    Mark, read it!!(And that one you recommended) didn’t know the MI5 had ‘ghost written’ it, was that pal MV? Lol! Imho a lot of self justification and ‘heroic deeds’ in both books, but a fair bit of interlinking themes as well.

    And who brings a machine gun to kidnap a horse ?
    Ans.a terrorist
    i think the correct question is who brings a machine gun to kill a horse ?
    Ans.a stupid terrorist

  • Mark

    MrB ,

    And i likewise re ( what was the name of that one you told me about lol ) no , no …read it too .

    It’s hard to figure out the difference between Walter Mitty and Jack Bauer . Speaking of Jack Bauer , did the gang of heavily armed men think shergar was going to escape and contact his handlers ?

    I just remembered …..O Callaghan was on that MI5 ITV special with the video game footage last week .

    I have no coment to make re life is like a box of chocolates as he seems in fightin form these days and I don’t won’t the ghost of the late Billy Flynn haunting me at night lol ..

    Keep it up MV …

  • Barnshee

    “Certainly, republicans have no great love of large sections of the media, for reasons that are not hard to understand. And I have no doubt that, if one were so minded, one could find some instance of it, during the last forty-plus years. But as I said, such an instance would be contrary to the general MO.”

    ie Give SF a soft ride no problem otherwise ..LOL

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Barnshee

    You think that the media have ‘given (SF and the IRA) a soft ride?’

    I would suggest that, on the contrary, SF have been the locus of unrelenting vilification for decades. And it is simply a statement of fact, that targeting journalists – including those engaged in this vilification – was not something they engaged in.

    (Though again, no doubt some journalists will have their stories about the time they got punched in Derry in ’72, or shoved in Andytown in ’84.)

  • “that targeting journalists – including those engaged in this vilification – was not something they engaged in.”

    Billy P, I’ve not heard of any stories of journalists being targeted in the recent past but I have heard of the media pulling a story when a victim was threatened of certain consequences if the victim pressed charges against a then election candidate.

    It would be nice to think that the media was free to report misdemeanours and that the justice system was accessible to all. It’s quite clear that the PRM still does not limit itself to democratic activity alone.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Nevin

    ‘It would be nice to think that the media was free to report misdemeanours and that the justice system was accessible to all.’

    Indeed. And it would be nice to think that journalists would do what they are supposed to do: which is to monitor the centres of power in society.

    Most journalists wish fervently to do so, but are confronted by vastly effective and oppressive institutional barriers. Most have no idea what they’re up against, and don’t understand that they are but hamsters on the wheel.

    The very best journalists are the most cynical, and the most accepting of the fact that they are hamsters. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, they manage to squeeze some actual journalism through the institutional barriers.

    The very worst journalists have no interest in doing actual journalism, and wish only for fame and a lucrative sinecure, doing the bidding of the same powerful interests they’re supposed to be monitoring.

    This last paragraph describes most of the Dublin media.

    ‘It’s quite clear that the PRM still does not limit itself to democratic activity alone.’

    This is not at all clear. Care to provide evidence?

  • “Care to provide evidence?”

    Billy, if the story I outlined above had been published I could have provided the link; it came to me from various sources.

    I agree with much of what you say about journalism. I say journalism rather than journalists as what appears in print or on the screen is filtered through editors and owners with input from the legal profession and vested interests. Here’s a nice little planning story that was picked up by the BBC but I understand wasn’t broadcast on the advice of its legal advisers.

  • Alias

    According to Ed Moloney, McGuinness has ‘form‘ when it comes to intimidating journalists that extends way beyond the journalist directly involved:

    “In the days before my book ‘A Secret History of the IRA’ was published in the autumn of 2001, Martin McGuinness toured newspaper and television offices in Dublin and London to talk about it to editors and senior journalists. His purpose was simple, to blacken my name and label me a dissident fellow-traveller. It was partly an effort to do the book down and partly an exercise in intimidation, carrying with it the implied threat that any journalist treating my book sympathetically or seriously risked the same treatment. He even went to see my editor in the Sunday Tribune, Matt Cooper.”

    Coincidentally, in the same article Moloney mentions a related matter:

    “McKevitt {PIRA’s QMG] came to suspect that for whatever reason, McGuinness gave more weapons to units that were most likely to lose them, usually through the efforts of informers.”