Sunday 24 September 2017

How McGuinness climbed ranks of PIRA to become OC in his 20s

Under his command Provos killed a dozen of its own and civilians but one victim stands out

Reputation: Martin McGuinness pictured with masked IRA men at the funeral of Brendan Burns in March 1988 Photo: Pacemaker
Reputation: Martin McGuinness pictured with masked IRA men at the funeral of Brendan Burns in March 1988 Photo: Pacemaker
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

By the mid-1980s the RUC, Garda and British Army were accustomed to picking up the bodies of 'informers' shot dead by the IRA, usually in ditches or fields in isolated rural areas.

The Derry city IRA murdered around a dozen of its own members and civilians, Protestant and Catholic, for informing or simply helping the police with witness statements to IRA crimes.

One of these victims stands out in police officers' memories of the time. Frank Hegarty was an IRA man who is believed to have been acting as one of several informants inside Martin McGuinness's Derry 'Brigade'. Hegarty had been an agent for several years. He was possibly 'turned' after being arrested for the double murder of two civilian cleaners, a man and woman in their fifties, who worked in the British Army's main barracks in Derry city in the mid-1970s.

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