Martin McGuinness should be judged by his actions rather than his peace-building speeches, a leading DUP figure has claimed.
Gregory Campbell’s criticism came after the Deputy First Minister and former IRA commander was the keynote speaker at the annual Tim Parry-Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace event in Warrington on Wednesday evening.
The foundation was set up in memory of the two young boys who were killed when the IRA detonated no-warning bombs in the town in 1993.
Mr McGuinness had been invited to attend by Colin Parry – the father of 12-year-old Tim.
Giving his address, the Sinn Fein MLA said: “My heart goes out to all the victims of the conflict. I feel very compassionate to all of them.
“We need to be sorry for everything that happened with the people involved in the conflict.”
Asked specifically about the Warrington bombing, he added: “It’s absolutely shameful that two young boys lost their lives.”
Mr McGuinness said he had stood beside many coffins himself, and added: “I was once in the IRA. I am now a peace-builder.
“It has been a journey which has involved much hurt and pain.”
East Londonderry MP Mr Campbell said that while loathe to criticise Colin Parry, or others who have suffered as a result of terrorism, he said Mr McGuinness remains a “man of words not action” until he helps bring the Warrington bombers – and those responsible for other terrorist acts – to justice.
“If this is to mean anything let us see the actions of a man who is a peace-builder. The knowledge, information and assistance which will help the police bring to justice anyone who has committed criminal acts, either recently or when Mr McGuinness himself was carrying them out. Failure to supply this demonstrates a man of words not of action.
“Furthermore,” Mr Campbell added, “the actions of Sinn Fein in organising a PIRA commemoration to pass the spot where that organisation murdered two Castlederg citizens was not what I would call matching peace-making words with actions.”
Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine, 18, was murdered in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, likened Mr McGuinness giving his talk on peace to “asking Myra Hindley to give a talk on child protection” – and claimed both Mr McGuinness and Gerry Adams have failed to respond to letters from their campaign for justice team.