Monday 23 September 2019

'This shouldn’t surprise anyone' - victims' relatives speak as McGuinness car-bomb video uncovered

Victims' relatives speak out as McGuinness car-bomb video uncovered

Paisley and McGuinness after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture: Getty
Paisley and McGuinness after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Picture: Getty
Controversy: Footage of Martin McGuinness holding a gun and showing children a bullet in the Spotlight documentary. Photos: BBC Spotlight
Controversy: Footage of Martin McGuinness holding a gun and showing children a bullet in the Spotlight documentary. Photo: BBC Spotlight

Leona O'Neill

Two women who lost loved ones at the hands of the IRA said this week's revelations on Martin McGuinness and his role in the IRA "should come as no surprise to anyone".

They were speaking after previously unseen video footage of the late Mr McGuinness showing children guns and at the preparation of a car bomb were unearthed.

It will appear in BBC documentary series 'Spotlight On The Troubles: A Secret History' to be shown next week.

Kathleen Gillespie's 42-year-old husband Patsy, a cook at Fort George Army base in Derry, was killed in October 1990.

He was tied to his work van, which was packed with explosives, and forced to drive to the Border before the IRA detonated it, killing him and five soldiers.

The IRA held Mr Gillespie's wife Kathleen and family hostage until after the explosion.

Ms Gillespie said that while she doesn't deny Mr McGuinness's peace-making in recent years, she will "never forget his past".

"Is this anything new to us?" she asked. "We all knew that Martin McGuinness was an IRA man. So this shouldn't surprise anyone. This is what he did.

"I'm not denying Martin McGuinness was a great peacemaker for one minute. But the things in his past can't be denied.

"We know he did great things before he died, but we also know that his past was full of bad things. I just say, let him rest, forget about him. He's gone and his secrets died with him.

"I have had to lay my questions to rest, because there is no one else who will answer those questions for me.

"He hadn't the courage to face me when he was alive, so I'm not going to bother chasing after him when he's dead."

Ann Travers's 22-year-old sister Mary was shot dead and her father Tom seriously injured in an IRA gun attack as the family left Mass at St Brigid's Church in south Belfast in 1984.

She would have preferred the footage had been shown before Mr McGuinness's death in 2017, so he could have been held accountable.

"It's not really surprising to anyone who knows about this but to actually show video evidence for the first time," she said.

"Martin McGuinness is dead now. It would have been good to have heard his accountability when he was alive for what he actually did in light of this new video evidence. And also for him to be questioned about the involvement of children.

"In particular, the point about giving young children bullets - especially whenever we think about Lyra McKee's murder - given the children that were there that night and the allegation that it was only a young adult, no more than a child himself, who actually murdered Lyra.

"The people who are influencing, manipulating and brainwashing the children of today are doing what Martin McGuinness did back then."

Meanwhile, former DUP leader Peter Robinson has said claims the late Ian Paisley funded a UVF bombing are "fake news".

The BBC 'Spotlight' documentary contains a claim from a former senior army officer that Dr Paisley helped fund a terror campaign in the 1960s.

Mr Robinson, posting on social media, said: "Nobody who was close to Ian will place an ounce of credibility on the ridiculous claim that he funded a UVF bombing."

A BBC spokesperson said the broadcaster had "complete confidence" in the integrity of the programme.

Irish Independent

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