Anger on peace nomination for SF’s McGuinness

Martin McGuinness (left) follows the coffin of IRA man Charles English in Londonderry in 1984. Pic: Pacemaker

Martin McGuinness (left) follows the coffin of IRA man Charles English in Londonderry in 1984. Pic: Pacemaker

There has been widespread anger after former deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was nominated for an international Peace Prize which has previously been given to Nelson Mandela.

The former Sinn Fein chief negotiator joins five other contenders for the 2016 Tipperary International Peace Award, including human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Egyptian-Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy.

Aileen Quinton, whose mother died in the IRA’s 1987 Poppy Day Bombing in Enniskillen which killed 11 people and injured at least 63, is disgusted by the news.

Renowned BBC journalist Peter Taylor says security sources have strongly linked Mr McGuinness to the atrocity as the leader of the IRA Northern Command, a claim he rejects.

Ms Quinton said: “It is repugnant that a man who still lauds the terrorist and terrorism of the organisation he was leader of; is totally unrepentant and who still withholds information about serious crime involved should be nominated for a peace award as opposed to being interviewed by police about his terrorist involvement.”

Dr Cillian McGrattan, lecturer in Politics at Ulster University, said that comparing Mr McGuinness to Nelson Mandela makes “a mockery of the real sacrifices that genuinely courageous people make in trying to overcome prejudice and injustice”.

He said Mr McGuinness rejected the peaceful methods of the civil rights movement and the SDLP before the introduction of interment in 1971 - and instead chose the path of violence.

Earlier this month the News Letter reported comments from UUP Alderman Mary Hamilton, who suffered permanent injuries in the 1972 IRA bombing of Claudy, which killed nine people.

“He [Mr McGuinness] had always said he would come to meet the Claudy families,” she said. “We approached him and that is what he said but we are still waiting.”

The News Letter approached Sinn Fein about this apparent promise, but no comment has been offered as yet.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said the decision by the selectors on the award committee to nominate Mr McGuinness “is not prefaced by context or an acknowledgement of the devastation that he and others caused”.

Kathryn Johnston, who together with her late husband Liam Clarke, wrote the only biography of Mr McGuinness, said it was “premature” to award him a peace prize “until such time as a viable truth recovery process is determined that will satisfy the needs of all victims, whether of the state or of paramilitaries”.