Declassified files: People ‘wouldn’t sue Martin McGuinness’

Martin McGuinness (right) and Gerry Adams in Londonderry in 1987
Martin McGuinness (right) and Gerry Adams in Londonderry in 1987

Martin McGuinness’s IRA links meant that people were unlikely to sue him even if a lawyer told them that they had a case, an NIO official wrote in 1989.

In government papers revealed under the 20 Year Rule, in a discussion about closing Irish border roads using explosives, civil servants discussed compensating those whose homes were damaged from blasts intended to reassert control and hamper the movement of the IRA.

One NIO official wrote that the use of explosives could cause “distress” to local people but would also reassure Protestants in Fermanagh.

The discussion came after border community associations, in which Sinn Fein members participated, were responsible for reopening many roads. One official wrote: “If my front window in Co Monaghan was blown in by the actions of the British Army, I would be off to my TD quicker than you could say Anglo Irish Agreement if I were told that I had to sue Martin McGuinness before I could get my hands on the moolah.

“All our experiences of house searches etc suggest that the best way of minimising conflict with the local population is for the man with the cheque book to turn up as rapidly as possible.

“Also, to be frank, even if my solicitor told me I did have a case against Mr McGuinness, I might think twice before suing him. I am told he has devoted and persuasive friends.”

Another civil servant wrote: “Claiming compensation is an art form on both sides of the border and more explosions are planned.”