Ex-MP Norman Tebbit wants 'shots in back' for Martin McGuinness
A NASTY row between Sinn Fein and a senior British politician overshadowed the second day of President Higgins's state visit to Britain.
Former British government minister Norman Tebbit has been accused of encouraging IRA dissidents to murder Martin McGuinness, the Northern Ireland deputy first Minister.
Lord Tebbit, whose wife Margaret was left crippled after the 1984 IRA bombing of the Conservative Party conference in Brighton, said he hoped Mr McGuinness is shot in the back for attending Tuesday's State banquet at the invitation of the Queen.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams responded strongly, saying it was unacceptable for a member of the House of the Lords to openly advocate the shooting of a political leader.
"I fully understand that Norman Tebbit has himself been a victim of the political conflict and I regret that he has suffered grievously," Mr Adams said.
The SF president, who insists he was never in the IRA himself, added that the comments were a shocking throwback to a violent past. He said both he and Mr McGuinness, a former IRA commander, had worked tirelessly for the success of the peace process at considerable personal risk.
"Martin, his home and indeed his family have been targets for abuse and attack by so-called dissident republicans. Political leaders on both sides of the Irish Sea should reject the sentiments expressed by Mr Tebbit," Mr Adams said.
Mr McGuinness said the remarks were not fitting for someone who holds high political office. But he said he did not want a public row on the issue.
Lord Tebbit said the Queen had no choice about Mr McGuinness attending the State banquet at Windsor Castle in honour of President Higgins. "There's always the possibility that a member of the Real IRA will be so outraged by Mr McGuinness bowing to the Queen that they might shoot him in the back for it," he said.
"We can but hope," he added.
Mr McGuinness said he had no qualms about standing for, and toasting the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the people of the UK at the banquet.
"I believe I have the overwhelming support of the people of Ireland for what I did," Mr McGuinness said, adding that he understood people's suffering in the Troubles.