Martin McGuinness: “but I don’t recall saying that.”

During the campaign to become President of Ireland, the Sinn Féin candidate, Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA, has repeatedly claimed that

“As a republican leader I have never and would never stand over attacks on the Garda Síochána or the Defence Forces”

In a report today, he’s again quoted as saying

“I would not support anybody under any circumstances attacking the gardai or the Defence Forces…”

So it’s worth noting Martin McGuinness’ response on Thursday’s RTÉ’s Six One News, when confronted with evidence that contradicts his claim.  From Saturday’s Irish News

“If I did say that it was totally and absolutely wrong to say that at the time but I don’t recall saying that.”

Here’s a fuller transcript of the exchange from the relevant section of the Six One News interview [from about 26mins to 28mins into the programme].

RTÉ’s Bryan Dobson (BD):  “What you’ve said is that you don’t stand over, and you’ve never stood over, the killing of members of our Defence Forces or Garda by the IRA.”

Martin McGuinness (MMcG):  “Absolutely.  And I unreservedly condemn any attacks on the gardaí or any members of the Defence Forces.  And, in fact, I had two cousins who were members of the gardaí and under no circumstances would I support any attack on any of the Defence Forces.  And, in fact, during the course of my campaign I’ve met quite a number of gardaí and members of the Irish Army who tell me that they’re going to vote for me in this election.”

BD:  “You’ve spoken about this before.  You were speaking about it way back in 1985.  In an interview with Michael O’Higgins in Hot Press magazine.  And you said that from a Sinn Féin point of view it would be wrong for the IRA to involve themselves in a situation where they were, where the result was death of members of the Gardaí or, what you described as, members of the “Free State Army”.

Then you were asked, “So the Gardaí patrolling the border are in no danger of attack?”.  And your reply, Mr McGuinness, “Except in circumstances, like in Ballinamore, where IRA volunteers felt they were going to be shot dead and were defending themselves against armed Gardaí and soldiers.” [added emphasis]

MMcG:  “Well I don’t recall that, that interview.  But I have made my position absolutely clear.  I am totally and absolutely opposed to any attacks on the Gardaí or any members of the Defence Forces.”

BD:  “Well is it fair to say that on this occasion you were standing over the killing of members of the Gardaí and Defence Forces?”

MM:  “No, I have never done that.  I have never done that in the past.”

BD:  “You said it was self-defence.”

MMcG:  “Well, I don’t even recall that interview.  I undoubtedly gave an interview, but whether or not…”

BD:  “We checked with Michael O’Higgins.  He’s now a senior counsel, he’s now a barrister, and he remembers the interview, and he says that this is indeed a transcript of what was said.”

MMcG:  “Well I don’t recall saying that and, if I did say that, it was totally and absolutely wrong to say that at the time, but I don’t recall saying that.”

The Ballinamore incident he was referring to in the 1985 interview was when Pte Patrick Kelly, the father of David Kelly, and Gary Sheehan, a Garda trainee from Co Monaghan, were killed by the Provisional IRA gang who were holding the kidnapped businessman Don Tidey.