Victims call for San Francisco to rescind Martin McGuinness honour

Relatives of those killed in a notorious IRA bloodbath have called for an official honour from the city of San Francisco to Martin McGuinness to be rescinded.

Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 12:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 10:20 am
The aftermath of one of the bombs which detonated in Claudy in 1972

They were speaking to the News Letter after the mayor – Democrat London Breed – apologised for the hurt caused by the document, which hails his “courageous service in the military” and “dedication to secure peace”.

Whilst the mayor office said “more care” should have been taken over the wording of the certificate, she did not state that it will be withdrawn.

The certificate was presented on Friday, and news of it emerged late on during the weekend after Sinn Fein’s national chairman Declan Kearney published photos of it.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The aftermath of one of the bombs which detonated in Claudy in 1972

The Ulster Gaelic Club San Francisco said the certificate had been accepted by somebody on behalf of Mr McGuinness’ family.

James Miller is a relative of David Miller, a 60-year-old man who was among the nine people killed when the IRA detonated three car bombs, all against civilian targets, in the tiny village of Claudy.

The 1972 atrocity unfolded just south-east of Londonderry city, where Mr McGuinness held command at the time.

Mr Miller said of the mayor’s statement: “It doesn’t go far enough. It’s too little, too late. It should be withdrawn – the whole thing should be withdrawn, with an apology to the families.”

James Miller, whose grandfather David died at Claudy, said London Breed's statement was too little, too late

The 49-year-old Limavady man said honouring Mr McGuinness as “some sort of war hero” is “really hurtful”, and his mother had been in tears for much of Monday after it reopened “old wounds”.

He added: “We believe he [McGuinness] had a hand in the Claudy bombings. Whether it was direct or indirect, Martin McGuinness, in our opinion, was involved.

“From the day and the hour this happened, my father’s life was in turmoil.”

When it comes to his suffering, he largely “kept it to himself” and raised his children to be non-sectarian in outlook, even though “his life was absolutely, completely destroyed”.

And David Temple, who lost his brother William, 16, in the attack, said the mayor “should have read into Martin McGuinness’ history”.

The 65-year-old retired welder from Donemana said: “What angered me very much indeed was this was done at the weekend, just before European Victims’ Day, which was a real slur to victims.

“She should take everything back. She should take it back and say she made a big mistake and is going to readdress the thing.”

A spokesperson for charity The Wounded Police and Families Association, which has an estimated 250 members, said: “His courage? What courage does it take to sit in a room at night and plan to murder innocent people?

“What courage is there in not putting on a uniform and being identified and accountable for your deeds?”