Martin McGuinness has reportedly called on Britain to face up to victims’ demands for disclosure.
The Sinn Fein deputy first minister was speaking in the aftermath of an Irish News report that the IRA Shankill bomber warned police of the atrocity.
A report in the Irish Times quoted Mr McGuinness saying that he did not know if the Irish News story was accurate but that it “would be very naive to suggest” that state security agencies do not try to recruit informants.
The Irish Times story appeared under a headline ‘McGuinness calls on Britain to open files on Shankill bombing’ but it did not quote him specifically making that demand in relation to the 1993 attack.
He was reported by the Irish Times to have said: “We already have had the Chief Constable of the PSNI, George Hamilton contradict that Irish News story but I don’t know what the validity of that story is except to say that in the Fresh Start Agreement there is a huge onus on all of us to find a way forward on the issue of legacy.”
The Sinn Fein leader was quoted as also saying: “You can pluck out any number of issues from the past, they all need to be dealt with and I think we made huge progress in the talks in terms of agreeing the mechanisms and the structures that we would use.
“The only difficulty is the British government’s refusal thus far to face up to the demands of many victims groups around disclosure and the use of this phrase ‘National Security’ which they see as an attempt to prevent disclosure.”
Mr McGuinness was reported as saying that Sinn Féin had kept in close contact with victims’ groups through the Fresh Start Agreement talks.
“To be honest the only way forward that I want to see is one that satisfies the relatives, it isn’t one that satisfies Sinn Fein. and hopefully there will be an outcome from deliberations to try and resolve that issue but it has to satisfy the relatives – if they are satisfied with it, we will go with it.”
The Irish Times reported that Mr McGuinness had said that any student of conflicts would acknowledge that militaries recruit and use people from all sides as informants.
“It would be very naive to suggest that it didn’t happen,” he said.
The Irish Times story, which did appeared on its web edition, did not explain whether Mr McGuinness had been speaking to the newspaper or if it was reporting his comments to someone else.
The News Letter asked Sinn Fein about the comments. A spokesman said that the headline was not supported by any quote. He also said that Mr McGuinness “clearly” seemed to have been speaking to the Irish Times.