NIO ‘blocked’ police from questioning Martin McGuinness

Pic: Kevin Scott / Presseye
Pic: Kevin Scott / Presseye

The Northern Ireland Office blocked the PSNI from questioning Martin McGuinness about the IRA Poppy Day bombing at Enniskillen, MPs have heard today.

Innocent Victims United spokesman Kenny Donaldson made the claim to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee while discussing Libya’s role in supplying semtex for the atrocity.

The committee is examining the role of Libya in supplying weapons to the IRA.

Mr Donaldson told the committee this morning: “We have also been advised by a senior former [PSNI] Historical Enquiry Team investigator that he had cause to wish to bring in the Deputy First Minister regards the atrocity. He was prevented from doing so. The NIO [Northern Ireland Office] advised that would not be a good idea and it did not happen.”

The News Letter has invited the PSNI, Northern Ireland Office and Sinn Fein to comment.

A Sinn Fein spokesman replied: “Martin McGuinness totally rejects this attempt based on unsubstantiated hearsay to link him to the Enniskillen bombing.”

On Remembrance Sunday in November 1987, the IRA bombed the commemoration parade in Enniskillen killing 11 people and severly injuring many more.

In 2008 Martin McGuinness was named as one of the senior IRA commanders who knew about the Enniskillen bombing in advance.

The claim, broadcast on the BBC by one of the most respected journalists to have covered the Troubles – came from intelligence sources north and south of the border.

Mr McGuinness strenuously denied the allegation contained in veteran British journalist Peter Taylor’s 10 Days of Terror documentary.

Mr Taylor told the News Letter that it was victims of the 1987 bomb who had alleged to him that Mr McGuinness was involved when he was filming for the documentary.

“They first raised Martin McGuinness with me and I then went away and spoke to intelligence sources,” he said.

“All sources, both north and south of the border, came up with the same thing – that Martin McGuinness was the leading figure in the IRA’s Northern Command at the time.”

And in the programme, PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Norman Baxter said that Northern Command knew about the plan to bomb the Remembrance Day service.

The senior officer, who led the investigation into the bombing, told the programme that it was not an unauthorised, one-off operation by a local IRA unit but was carefully co-ordinated as part of a “strategy of genocide” by three IRA units – two from the Republic and one from Northern Ireland.

He said that prior to the bombing there were deliberations at a very senior level within the IRA and that its Northern Command knew of the operation.

“The calculation was taken as to the number of casualties they could inflict on the civilian population against the number of casualties they could inflict on members of the security forces – and they decided the risk was worth taking,” he said.

Mr Baxter also pointed out that the IRA planned a simultaneous attack on a Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade parade at the border village of Tullyhommon a few miles away but the bomb failed to go off.

The bomb exploded without warning at the cenotaph at 10.43am and among the dead – all of whom were civilians – were three married couples, a retired policeman and a nurse.

Mr McGuinness dismissed the claim he was the leading figure in the IRA’s Northern Command as “a securocrat fantasy”.

“The allegations made in this programme are completely false and are entirely based on untrue briefings from faceless individuals in the intelligence apparatus long hostile to Sinn Fein,” he said.