McGuinness: I’m proud of my IRA days and I won’t apologise to anyone

Martin McGuinness (right) made his remarks in a TV interview with Eamonn Mallie

Martin McGuinness (right) made his remarks in a TV interview with Eamonn Mallie

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Martin McGuinness has robustly defended his actions in the IRA, stating he is “proud” of what he did and will not apologise to anyone — but he has again declined to clarify whether he ever killed.

The Deputy First Minister’s comments emerged a day after the DUP’s Edwin Poots said that it would be helpful if Mr McGuinness was to publicly apologise for the IRA’s activities during the Troubles.

Mr McGuinness’s comments come in an interview with Eamonn Mallie, carried out before Mr Poots’ comments, to be broadcast at the weekend on the new TV station Irish TV.

When asked how he reconciled his personal religiosity with being part of a killer organisation, Mr McGuinness said: “I think you have to consider the circumstances that existed in the city [Londonderry] at the time...I would have felt ashamed if I had not been part of resistance and part of fighting back against the forces of the state ... I’m very proud that I was a part of the IRA in Derry.”

Then, asked how he felt pulling the trigger to kill a soldier or a police officer, he said: “Well, down the years, you know, I’ve been involved in quite a number of interviews where questions like this are asked and for me to give an answer to any of that is to sensationalise what happened...”

He added: “I never talk about shooting anybody, but I do acknowledge that I was a member of the IRA and as a member of the IRA I obviously engaged in fighting back against the British Army.”

When it was put to Mr McGuinness that by saying that he meant “killing”, he said: “What I’m not going to do is give people a sensational headline by saying ‘on such and such a night I was involved in a gun battle with the British Army and 25 British soldiers were killed’. I’m not into that, and I’m not going to get into that.”

Pressed on whether he ever killed anyone, Mr McGuinness did not deny that he had taken human life but said: “You’re inviting me to sensationalise this”.

Mr McGuinness said that his parents had both been “very devout Catholics” and that they were “more religious than political”.

“I believed that in a situation where the community that I came from were being treated like second and third class citizens, that I had a responsibility to fight back against it. And I don’t apologise to anybody for having done that. I think it was the right thing to do.”

Mr McGuinness was asked if he had repented for his past actions. He replied: “I think I answered that question earlier. I was proud to be a member of the IRA. I am still, 40 years on, proud that I was a member of the IRA. I’m not going to be a hypocrite and sit here and say something different.”

Mr McGuinness was asked why Gerry Adams cannot admit that he was in the IRA. Mr McGuinness said “the reality is that Gerry has said that he wasn’t in the IRA...I accept Gerry’s statement”.

He added that anyone admitting to IRA membership could be arrested.

Eamonn Mallie told Martin McGuinness that his late mother had told the interviewer how she had been humiliated when the priest came to her home to report that her son had stolen acid in order to make acid bombs.

Mr McGuinness said that it had been during the ‘battle of the Bogside’ when the area was “at war with the RUC and at war with those who were enforcing the inequalities and discriminations that people were being subjected to”.

He said that many of his peers “were involved in seeking out materials that could be used against the forces of the state; unfortunately somebody recognised me when we went and tried to get out of – I think it was St Columb’s College”.

Mr McGuinness said that his parents “never told me they were ashamed, but I know they were annoyed”.

• The interview will be broadcast at 10pm on Sunday on Irish TV – Sky (Channel 191), Freesat (Channel 400), Free to Air set-top box & evision (channel 191) and at www.irishtv.ie

Caught stealing acid for bombs

Eamonn Mallie told Martin McGuinness that his late mother had told the interviewer how she had been humiliated when the priest came to her home to report that her son had stolen acid in order to make acid bombs. Mr McGuinness said that it had been during the ‘battle of the Bogside’ when the area was “at war with the RUC and at war with those who were enforcing the inequalities and discriminations that people were being subjected to”. He said that many of his peers “were involved in seeking out materials that could be used against the forces of the state; unfortunately somebody recognised me when we went and tried to get out of – I think it was St Columb’s College”.

Mr McGuinness said that his parents “never told me they were ashamed, but I know they were annoyed”.

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