News Letter
25 April 2012

UNIONISTS yesterday united in calling on Martin McGuinness to own up to what he did while in the IRA.

However, an attempt by TUV leader Jim Allister to question First Minister Peter Robinson on the floor of the Assembly about his view of the allegations was quickly halted by Sinn Fein MLA Francie Molloy.

Mr Molloy — who was voted into the new position of “principal deputy speaker” by the DUP and Sinn Fein last year — was in the Speaker’s chair for the half-hour of First Minister’s Questions.

Although the Smithwick Tribunal claims only referred to the surname of the deputy first minister, unionists quickly demanded explanations.

Mr Allister tried to raise the allegations as a supplementary question to one about the social investment fund, arguing they were much more serious than what was being discussed. However, Mr Molloy refused to allow the question because it was “not relevant” to business at that point.

Later, in a statement released by the DUP, East Derry MP Gregory Campbell listed a series of facts about Mr McGuinness’ links to the IRA.

Mr Campbell said that in March he asked Mr McGuinness to reveal the “activities he was involved in” and that the Smithwick evidence was “yet another reason why he must do so”.

Mr Campbell said: “If Mr McGuinness wants to deal with the past, he should have no problem in owning up to his activities so as to help bring closure for the victims of those crimes. So far, he and others in Sinn Fein have failed to do so.”

Mr Campbell added: “While we’re all committed to moving Northern Ireland forward, the deputy first minister should come clean on his involvement in the past.”

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said: “This evidence raises a number of very serious questions which need to be answered today by the deputy first minister. He owes it to the families of the murdered officers and the wider public to give full and honest disclosure of his knowledge of the murders.”

Mr Allister said that in “any normal democracy” the allegation from a judicial tribunal that the deputy first minister had authorised murders “would provoke immediate debate in the local legislature and demands for removal from office of such a person”.

He added: “Yet today, though McGuinness was named at the Smithwick Tribunal as having authorised the murder plot in which senior police officers Breen and Buchanan died, Stormont slumbers on immune from the obvious implications.”

Mr Allister said those “who installed the provo commander in office sit in embarrassed silence when I attempt to raise the issue”.

The North Antrim MLA said that it was “most serious evidence” as it dealt with a period when Mr McGuinness claimed to have left the IRA.

He said: “Instead of him now being arrested and questioned, as he ought to be, his protected status prevails, because the so-called process is now more important than truth or justice.”