Monday 21 January 2019

McGuinness 'has blood on hands'

The sister-in-law of slain Garda Jerry McCabe hopes 'sanity prevails' when voters finally decide, writes Jim Cusack

The sister-in-law of slain detective Jerry McCabe has said she hopes "sanity prevails" and voters reject Martin McGuinness, who she said has "blood on his hands".

And in a reference to the letter that Senator David Norris wrote on behalf of his former lover and which caused his withdrawal from the presidential race, Una Heaton, from Limerick, said: "David Norris has only ink on his hands -- Martin McGuinness has blood on his hands."

While Mr McGuinness was saying last week that he would welcome the Queen back to Ireland, there is as yet unproven information available to suggest he was in charge of the IRA at the time the Queen's cousin -- Lord Louis Mountbatten -- was assassinated.

If the unpublished information collected by a Dublin amateur republican historian, who died while compiling a book about the IRA, is correct, it would seem that Mr McGuinness was the Provo's chief of staff in 1979 when Lord Mountbatten was blown up by an IRA bomb.

The mainly generous news coverage Mr McGuinness was receiving last week prompted Mrs Heaton to speak out -- saying it was still very difficult for her sister to talk about her husband's death.

Mrs Heaton has spoken out before against the IRA and Sinn Fein while her sister, Ann McCabe, has always found it difficult to cope with publicly speaking about the murder of her husband. Mrs McCabe was said to have been devastated yet again last week when straw polls suggested rising support for Mr McGuinness, who was again deflecting questions about his involvement in the IRA last week.

Speaking to Newstalk in Cork, Mr McGuinness claimed he had been in the IRA and may have been involved in gun battles with the British Army in Derry in the early Seventies, but continued to emphasise that his most important role was in peace negotiations for which, he said, he had received international acclaim -- and compared his role with the peace negotiators in South Africa.

But Mrs Heaton told voters: "When you are going to vote, remember all the people killed in bombs like Enniskillen and remember people like Colin Parry who lost his son (in the IRA's bombing in Warrington town centre in which 12-year-old Tim Parry was killed alongside Jonathan Ball, aged three, in February 1993) and ask yourself would you like to have a guy like Martin McGuinness represent our country. I hope it never happens."

Mrs Heaton said she had been in the Stormont Assembly with other relations of other victims when Mr McGuinness was present. "I was in the gallery in Stormont and he would not look me in the eye. He has no conscience."

She said that in its present economic turmoil the country could not afford to be represented by a man who was at the head of the IRA when it carried out the Northern Bank robbery in January 2004 -- "the biggest robbery and nobody was ever convicted. We don't have the means in the country anymore. I hope sanity prevails."

She said the family were heartened to hear Gay Byrne's denunciations of Mr McGuinness and Gerry Adams as "liars".

Mr McGuinness does not comment on his role in the IRA between his early days in Derry and his leading role in the peace negotiations.

He does not explain why, if he had no further role in the IRA after 1974, as he has claimed before, he was effectively the chief negotiator for the IRA during peace talks in the 1990s -- over 20 years after he claimed to have left the organisation.

Senior police sources on both sides of the Border say Mr McGuinness held top positions in the Provisionals from about 1972 onwards.

They further say that the IRA Army Executive -- the caretaker group that runs the organisation during 'peace time' -- still exists and Mr McGuinness is still in this.

Mr McGuinness accompanied fellow IRA leaders Gerry Adams, Daithi O Conaill and Seamus Twomey at talks with the British government in London in July 1972.

Those talks led to a brief ceasefire, which lasted only two weeks until Bloody Friday on July 21, 1972, when the IRA detonated 22 bombs within the space of an hour in Belfast, killing nine and injuring 130.

Mr McGuinness was regarded by gardai and the Royal Ulster Constabulary as the de facto military commander of the IRA, holding senior positions including "officer commanding, Northern Command".

A document, found among material amassed by Dublin accountant Michael McEvilly, an amateur historian with close contacts with former senior IRA figures, says Mr McGuinness was chief of staff of the IRA from 1977 to 1979 when he was succeeded by Mr Adams from 1979 to 1982.

During the period 1977 to 1979, the La Mon Hotel bombing took place -- on February 17, 1978. Twelve people, seven women and five men, attending a pedigree dog owners' dinner, were burned to death when four fire bombs exploded.

The attack was part of a campaign to destroy Northern Ireland's tourist industry and to stop inward investment. This campaign led to the murders of high-profile business people, including a director of a British manufacturing company, Strathearn Audio, which had set up a factory in west Belfast with the help of British government funding. James Nicholson, 45, married with three children, was shot dead as he drove into the factory in March 1977.

Most of the IRA killings in this period were of low-level members including part-timers in the police and security forces, almost all of them Protestant.

However, possibly the most 'spectacular' atrocity in the history of the Provisional IRA took place on August 27, 1979, when they detonated a bomb on board Lord Mounbatten's boat in Donegal Bay off Mullaghmore -- a spot where he spent August each year on holiday in his former wife's family holiday home.

The bomb also killed 83-year-old Dowager Lady Brabourne and Mountbatten's grand-nephew Nicholas Knatchbull, 14, and his friend Paul Maxwell, 15, from Enniskillen.

The same day, two bombs killed 18 British soldiers near Warrenpoint in Co Down.

Earlier that year the IRA killed the British Ambassador to The Hague, Richard Sykes who was shot dead at his residence on March 22.

These events were designed to drive a wedge between the British and Irish governments and to cause major destabilisation in Northern Ireland.

However, diplomatic efforts led within six years to the historic accord of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement under which the Irish Government was given the right to permanent representation in Northern Ireland under the Anglo-Irish Secretariat.

Sunday Independent

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