Over £44,000 of NI Screen money helped fund Martin McGuinness ‘fighter’ documentary

A new documentary portraying Martin McGuinness as a “fighter, negotiator, and politician” was made with the help of a roughly £44,000 grant from a NI funding body.

Thursday, 7th January 2021, 7:16 am
Updated Thursday, 7th January 2021, 9:59 am
The documentary on Martin McGuinness aired on TG4 last night

The film – titled simply ‘Martin McGuinness’ in TG4’s listings and broadcast on the channel at 9.30pm last night – lasts nearly an hour-and-a-half, and allots less than five minutes to the voices of IRA victims.

The network TG4 is a publicly-funded one, headquartered in the Republic (with main office in Galway, and another office in Dublin).

Meanwhile David Temple, the brother of a boy killed in the Claudy massacre, has hit out at what he feels is a prevailing attitude toward bereaved relatives that “we should move on, forget the past, praise people like Martin McGuinness, forget about our loved ones”.

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The show’s pre-broadcast PR material described Mr McGuinness as a “revolutionary” who “was deeply concerned by the plight of his community ... and gave up his job to defend his city and the rights of its people”.

And in the film itself, the narration includes statements that the IRA was “protecting” the Bogside and Creggan, and that those joining its ranks after Bloody Sunday were displaying “a strong stance against the slaughter perpetrated against the people of Derry”.

Whilst there is criticism aired against Mr McGuinness by politicians in the show, only three victims are heard from, making for a combined airtime of about four-and-a-half minutes (and one of those was in the form of an archive clip, not a fresh interview).

Now public body NI Screen has said it gave £44,106 towards the making of the documentary.

Meanwhile, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland gave €84,820 (about £76,200) – money that comes from TV licensing in the Republic.

NI Screen said: “While a documentary on the life of Martin McGuinness will always attract criticism, TG4 and the producers have ensured that this documentary includes many aspects and perspectives on Martin McGuinness’s life.”

TG4 also said it is “happy with the balance of opinion” in the documentary.

Mr Temple’s brother William was 16 when he was one of nine people killed in a 1972 triple bombing of the tiny village of Claudy just outside Londonderry (while Mr McGuinness was commanding the city’s IRA units).

He said the way to balance such a documentary should be half on McGuinness, and half on his victims.

Now aged 67 and living in Tyrone, Mr Temple said: “Many’s the time the Claudy families asked him why the bombs were put in Claudy. He failed to answer that, ‘til his dying day.

“That man has taken a lot of things with him that could help victims – on both sides of the community.

“Remember: Martin McGuinness didn’t always murder Protestants. He also murdered Roman Catholics and republicans.

“I feel terrible, victims do not get fair airtime.”

He said it is “typical Northern Ireland – the victim is forgotten about, and the boys that do the killing are glorified”.

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Alistair Bushe