Claims by an MI6 operative in the Sunday tabloids that Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness was a British spy have been rubbished.
Speaking over the allegations which first appeared in the Dublin-based Sunday World, the Mid-Ulster MP described the claims by the individual known as ‘Martin Ingram’ as “hooey”.
Mr McGuinness said he was a “million per cent” certain that no evidence could be produced to support the allegations.
Sinn Féin has accused elements within Ian Paisley’s DUP of being behind the allegations.
Mr McGuinness said after a meeting of his Assembly group: “I have worked all of my adult life as an Irish republican.
“Many of my comrades have been killed. Many IRA volunteers have been killed and I, of course, knew many of them as many of you well know.
“Under no circumstances will I ever be concerned about anybody throwing anything up at me which will strike against me.
“It is not even a remote possibility.”
The allegations against Mr McGuinness were made by ‘Ingram’, a British Army intelligence handler who claims he has quit the force.
A transcript of a conversation provided by Ingram -- allegedly between Mr McGuinness and an MI6 handler -- refers to the tactic of ‘proxy bombs’ once adopted by the Provisional IRA. Ingram claims that the unpopular tactic was promoted by McGuinness at the behest of his MI6 handlers.
Republicans believe the allegations amount to a new ‘black propoganda’ bid to damage the peace process, while long-time critics of Sinn Féin were equally sceptical of the claims.
Mr McGuinness said today: “The allegations are a load of rubbish.
“They are total and absolute nonsense and they are hooey of the worst kind.
“Now you would need to have nerves of steel to be part of a Sinn Féin leadership which has had to take the sort of muck and abuse thrown at us over the course of many years, but we are in positions of leadership.
“If you don`t like the heat, you get out of the kitchen.
“We have never jumped out of the kitchen. We will stay in this process to the bitter end.
“We are not going to be distracted. We are not going to be deflected and ultimately we are going to work through and I think our people have a very real sense that that is the case.”
Sinn Féin`s chief negotiator said it had been known for some time that elements within the DUP were behind trying to spread claims that he was working for British intelligence.
“I have to say given all that we went through in 2004, it was quite clear then that there were elements within the DUP who were out to sabotage any prospect of an agreement between Sinn Féin and the DUP,” he said.
“It`s like deja vu all over again.
“Here we are at a very critical stage of the process and elements of the DUP are doing their damnedest to try and undermine the prospect of trying to get these institutions up.
“We in Sinn Féin are not going to be distracted by any of this.”