Irish Republican News · October 10, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: McGuinness under pressure in apology process
McGuinness under pressure in apology process

mcguinnesskearney.jpg

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has said he is proud of what he did in the IRA and will not apologise to anyone, despite a statement by his party’s northern chairman that he was sorry for the hurt experienced by the British military during the conflict.

This week the DUP’s Edwin Poots said that it would be “helpful” if Mr McGuinness was to publicly apologise for the IRA’s activities.

The question of a Sinn Fein apology for the IRA’s armed campaign arose following a recent speech by Sinn Fein’s northern chairperson, Declan Kearney (pictured, right, with McGuinness, left).

At an event in Dublin last month which was attended by the British ambassador, Kearney said that families on all sides and across Ireland and Britain were continuing to suffer as a result of the conflict and issued an apology.

He said: “I am sorry for the hurt experienced by members of British military forces and civilians during the war; the suffering of unionist people in our society; and equally for the pain of the families of IRA volunteers and Sinn Fein activists killed; as well as many other nationalist citizens also killed and injured.”

Mr Kearney was speaking in regard to Sinn Fein’s “uncomfortable conversations” programme, a series of dialogues held by the party with members of the Protestant community in the North as well as British establishment figures. The programme followed on from Sinn Fein’s “unionist outreach” agenda, which was largely ignored by the main unionist parties in the North.

It is not clear if Mr Kearney’s statement was intended as a formal apology on behalf of the Sinn Fein leadership. The DUP has long urged Sinn Fein to issue a full condemnation of past IRA actions.

In the interview to be broadcast this weekend, Kearney’s colleague Martin McGuinness was asked if, as a devout Catholic, he had “repented” for his past actions.

“I was proud to be a member of the IRA,” he said. “I am still, 40 years on, proud that I was a member of the IRA. I’m not going to be a hypocrite and sit here and say something different.”

Pressed on whether he ever killed anyone by interviewer Eamonn Mallie, Mr McGuinness refused to answer. He said: “You’re inviting me to sensationalise this”.

But asked how he reconciled his personal religiosity with being part of the IRA, Mr McGuinness said: “I think you have to consider the circumstances that existed in the city [Derry] at the time...I would have felt ashamed if I had not been part of resistance and part of fighting back against the forces of the state.”

Mr McGuinness said that his parents had both been “more religious than political” but were very devout Catholics” who had been “annoyed” at his involvement in the IRA’s campaign.

“I believed that in a situation where the community that I came from were being treated like second and third class citizens, that I had a responsibility to fight back against it,” he said.

“And I don’t apologise to anybody for having done that. I think it was the right thing to do.”

BRITISH APOLOGY

In a related development, it emerged this week that the British government has apologised to a Catholic man who was tortured by members of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment 44 years ago.

Former docker James McDonald received his long-awaited apology from British armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt last month.

The north Belfast man had been brutally assualted in 1971 by British soliders after walking into a checkpoint in Earl Street as he made his way to work close to the docks.

Mr McDonald was made to stand in the stress position, punched, kicked and burned by cigarettes by members of the patrol. He was also verbally abused and called a “Fenian b*****d” and forced to say “F**k the Pope” while a loaded gun was later put in his mouth.

During his ordeal, which lasted two and a half hours, he was shown pornographic pictures while soldiers put their hands down his trousers which the 70-year-old believes amounted to a sexual assault.

In a further humiliating act he was urinated on by members of the unit.

Mr McDonald said he was content after receiving the apology via the Pat Finucane Centre.

“I never forgot this,” he said. “Something like that is an experience. It was shocking and it was terrifying at the time but I didn’t let them break me.”

© 2015 Irish Republican News