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?
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…
“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.”