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MARIE O’HALLORAN and GERRY MORIARTY in Killarney
26 May 2012
Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has offered to hold talks with dissident republicans. He insisted, however, the process of building a new future “will continue with or without” them.
In the first keynote address this morning at the the Sinn Féin ard fheis he said he was offering dissidents an “opportunity to meet and talk, come and tell us what you hope to gain by deluding yourselves and the gullible, that your actions will succeed in what is certainly a pathetic and futile attempt to turn back the clock”.
Referring to Unionist concerns he said those who thought a united Ireland could be built without unionist participation and leadership were “deluded”.
And he pledged the party’s commitment to push for voting rights to be extended to those in the North and emigrants. “Talk during elections is one thing. Now is the time for action,” said the former Presidential election candidate.
A former senior IRA member, Mr McGuinness told about 400 delegates at the morning session: “I was part of the conflict. I was there during the difficult and tragic times we had in the past and let me tell you there is nothing romantic about the war.”
“It was hard, it was painful and it was traumatic and I never ever want the children of Ireland who live today in peace to be subjected to the conflict, pain and hurt that we lived through.”
He added that “if anyone can claim to understand the mindset of those opposed to peaceful Irish republicanism I think I can”.
The Mid-Ulster MP and MLA said there were those who claimed to be republican and to “still be fighting for Ireland, these people claim they love our country but clearly they don’t love our people as the murder of Ronan Kerr, a young GAA loving police officer in April last year showed”.
“Those involved in these violent acts don’t believe for one minute that they further the cause of Irish reunification. What’s more they also know the agreements we have negotiated are solid and secure.
He had met Mr Kerr’s mother Nuala Kerr and Kate Carroll, whose husband PSNI officer Steven Carroll was killed in Craigavon and they were genuine supporters of peace and change.
“My message to those who remain committed to violence is that it is not much of an achievement to think that the only thing you have shown the capability to break are two fine women’s hearts.”
Delegates at the ardfheis also debated the economy, health, education and the household charge. Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley said next month Sinn Féin will introduce the Local Government Household Charge Repeal bill seeking to force the Government to get rid of the €100 household charge.
He said half of all householders had not paid the charge and he urged unions, community groups, councillors and TDs, particularly Labour members, to rally behind the attempt to consign the charge “to the rubbish bin of history”.
The party’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised the U-turn by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly from Opposition to Government. “For years James Reilly was like a hawk swooping on Mary Harney and today he is but a parrot repeating her words”.
Donegal North East TD Padraig MacLochlainn told the ardfheis that “while there are no quick fixes or easy answers to our economic crisis there are choices. Unfortunately the Government is making all the wrong ones.”
He said Sinn Féin had a roadmap to get to a prosperous and equal Ireland. “We have produced a detailed, costed and credible plan.”
Sinn Féin Youth delegate Diane Nolan said unemployment was 14.7 per cent in the Republic in February. Under 25 unemployment was more than double that figure at 31.6 per cent. “And in the North youth unemployment is at a 15 year high,” she said.
MP and MLA Conor Murphy said the Northern Ireland Assembly’s lack of fiscal powers limited Sinn Féin’s ability to tackle the economic crisis. “Without the necessary tools we cannot design the policies to assist economic recovery on the island and are simply reduced to redistributing an ever decreasing block grant from London.”
Senator Kathryn Reilly surprised delegates when she took off two GAA club jerseys, one after the other, leaving on a London GAA club jersey. She said it was to highlight how clubs had been ravaged by emigration. Ms Reilly pointed out that the only thriving GAA clubs were those abroad.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams will address the ardfheis at 5.25 pm.
Sinn Féin MP attacks Real IRA, Continuity IRA and other opponents of power-sharing as ‘pathetic’ and ‘deluded’
26 May 2012
The deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, has accused the Real IRA, Continuity IRA and other dissident republicans of being the enemies of Ireland and opponents of progress.
The Sinn Féin MP described those republicans opposed to power sharing in the north of Ireland as “pathetic”.
Referrring to the widow of the murdered police officer Stephen Carroll and the mother of Constable Ronan Kerr, who was killed last year by a booby-trap car bomb, the former IRA chief of staff said all the dissident republicans could do was “break these two fine women’s hearts”.
Speaking at the Sinn Féin annual conference in Kerry on Saturday, McGuinness said: “People who think that a new Ireland can be built without unionist participation, involvement & leadership are deluded.”
He said the process of building a new future on Ireland would move on with or without the republican dissidents.
McGuinness told the conference that he didn’t “want the children of Ireland to live through the pain, conflict and hurt that we lived through”.
He said it was time for all republicans to recognise that there were in the north one million people who considered themselves to be British.
The former head of the IRA in the Troubles also offered to meet with republican dissidents with the aim of dissuading them from their armed campaign.
“The war is over,” he told delegates at the conference, adding that there was “nothing romantic” about it.
The Real IRA and Continuity IRA have repeatedly said they have nothing to discuss with Sinn Féin leaders in relation to their ongoing campaign of violence.
By Liam Clarke
16 May 2012
Community Relations Week has kicked off with a bitter political row over plans to end the divisions in our society.
David Ford, the Alliance leader, on Monday lashed out at Martin McGuinness for comments he made in the Belfast Telegraph that criticised his party for holding up efforts to produce a long-awaited Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) strategy.
In an interview to mark a year of the latest power-sharing Assembly, the Deputy First Minister accused Alliance of not pulling its weight on the issue of a shared future.
He said its poor attendance at a Stormont committee on the issue “left a lot to be desired, though they are the ones who have been pushing this publicly”.
Mr Ford hit back, accusing Mr McGuinness of breaching confidentiality and of making unsubstantiated claims about Alliance’s attendance record.
“It was with disappointment that I heard at the weekend of the Deputy First Minister’s remarks about the process.
“Bad enough that he chose to breach the confidentiality that he demanded and that we had respected, but much worse to claim that Alliance attendance at the meetings ‘leaves a lot to be desired’,” Mr Ford said.
He was delivering the keynote address at a Community Relations Council (CRC) conference in Belfast. He said: “The fact is that Chris Lyttle, the MLA who I asked to lead on this, has attended all but one of the meetings that have been held, and at that meeting my special adviser attended in his place.”
He added: “I can understand why Alliance’s participation in the process may have caused some frustration within the DUP and Sinn Fein — because Chris has been persistently, doggedly, insisting that any strategy that is produced has to reflect the criticisms that poured down on the First Minister and Deputy First Minister’s previous attempt.”
Setting out Alliance’s bottom line, Mr Ford said the CSI strategy must include:
• Public spending tests to promote sharing on every public investment.
• Legal acknowledgement that all space is shared space with no compromise on territorialisation, including a strong protocol on flags.
• A comprehensive interface strategy which promotes openness and tolerance.
• A landmark review of equality and sharing in public housing.
• Serious investment in integration in teaching, including shared education and teacher training.
• A comprehensive youth strategy to combat sectarianism.
• An independent delivery system for community relations which has enough clout to challenge Government.
Mr Ford claimed that any document published by OFMDFM without all-party support would be “a watered down strategy that would only have the lowest common denominator between these two parties, and so would not achieve a shared future”.
But Peter Robinson hit out at the Alliance leader and said that his party should play a more productive role in the CSI talks.
“(Perhaps) the Alliance Party should try and focus itself more on trying to get an agreed result instead of going out and trying to indicate that somehow they are leading the way, when in fact they are dragging their feet,” the DUP leader said during ministerial questions at Stormont.
“So perhaps they can get their head out of the sand and start attending more meetings, stop trying to delay meetings from taking place, and make more of a contribution,”he added.
He said that compromise was inevitable given that talks on the new strategy involve all five parties that sit in the Stormont Executive.
Story so far
In June 2007, shortly after devolution, all parties promised to bring forward a strategy to combat sectarian division.
In July 2010 a document for consultation did not prove acceptable and a Stormont all-party committee has been working on the issue since then. Last week Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson expressed frustration with the lack of progress and said that if agreement couldn’t be reached soon they would publish a joint Sinn Fein/DUP document before the House rises on July 7.
12 May 2012
RTE star Miriam O’Callaghan has revealed how she was terrorised by people who sent her messages saying they hoped that she and her children would die after a row with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness.
She received the “intimidating, unsettling and frightening” messages on Twitter after her controversial Presidential election debate with the leading republican.
The broadcaster finally decided to reveal the agony she suffered on the social-media website after hearing of the abuse directed at footballer James McClean earlier this week.
The Londonderry-born soccer star has been forced to quit Twitter after receiving death threats in the wake of his call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2012.
Ms O’Callaghan told how she had been subjected to threats against her family after questioning Mr McGuinness on the apparent contradiction between his religious beliefs and IRA murders.
“While I have never spoken about this before, I received terrible abuse after my interview with Martin McGuinness,” she said.
“People were tweeting me, saying they hoped I would die and hoped my children would die. Every word was ‘f’ and ‘c’.
“It is very intimidating, unsettling and frightening when people are threatening you and your children with death.
“I don’t mind people being critical of my programmes — but this crossed the line.
“The tone of the tweets was so nasty, I almost quit Twitter because of the unbelievable level of vitriol and abuse.”
Last night, Stormont Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinness condemned the threats received by the mother-of-eight.
The torrent of sick messages was unleashed after she confronted Mr McGuinness during the RTE Prime Time Presidential debate.
The presenter pressed the former IRA chief of staff on the apparent contradiction between his strong Catholic beliefs and the murders committed by the IRA during the Troubles.
She directly asked Mr McGuinness how he could claim to be a man of religion and yet be “involved in the murder of so many people”.
Ms O’Callaghan (51) said that she absolved Mr McGuinness and Sinn Fein of any responsibility for the abuse.
“I know that Martin or his team had nothing to do with it, but people felt they were acting on his behalf,” she said.
Mr McGuinness’s spokesman said the Deputy First Minister “absolutely” condemned any threats against Ms |O’Callaghan and that the individuals responsible were “as reprehensible as those who targeted James McClean” this week.
A senior Garda officer said gardai could not investigate a threat to Ms O’Callaghan unless she lodged a complaint.
By Ed Curran
8 May 2012
In the spotlight: Martin McGuinness, challenged by an IRA victim’s son during the Irish presidential election
Transparency and openness. So much in public life has revolved around these two words in the past week – from the phone-hacking scandal in Rupert Murdoch’s empire to Cardinal Sean Brady’s failings over child sex-abuse.
In the midst of all this headline-grabbing controversy, one other public figure closer to home has withstood another wave of claims about his past.
The deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, dismissed evidence given to the Smithwick Tribunal as fantasy. He said he totally rejected claims that he was the IRA’s northern officer commanding who approved the use of ‘human bombs’ and other acts of terrorism.
Mr McGuinness has been in outspoken form of late. He told a conference in London last week that the Good Friday Agreement signalled the end of the Union.
He has called for the closure of the Northern Ireland Office and says a Secretary of State is needed no longer. He reveals that Ian Paisley said to him at their first meeting: “Martin, we can rule ourselves … we don’t need these direct rule ministers coming over here and telling us what to do.”
However, whatever the future of the Union or the Northern Ireland Office, it is the questions about the deputy First Minister’s past which refuse to go away. The evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal has resurrected the spectre of Mr McGuinness in the IRA.
A year ago, similar allegations surfaced during the Irish presidential election, with victims of the IRA confronting Mr McGuinness on the streets of the south. Even the interrogatory powers of the Republic’s best journalists and interviewers failed to cast any more light on his IRA background.
It is a measure of the extent to which the community wants to preserve peace and political stability that the dismissive comments made by Mr McGuinness about the Union and with regard to his IRA involvement have not led to any serious fracture in relations in the First and deputy First Minister’s office.
Peter Robinson says the Stormont coalition will remain intact. It would only be threatened if firm police evidence of involvement in terrorism led to charges in accordance with the due process of the law.
In many minds – not least the IRA’s victims – unease and disquiet will probably never abate. More likely than not, Mr McGuinness may live out his life without the full facts of his militant years ever emerging.
When Peter Robinson says it up to people to come forward with evidence, there appears little, or no, chance of that happening.
Martin McGuinness has made an impressive mark as deputy First Minister. He has shown courage in standing up against dissident violence and he has positively and enthusiastically promoted Northern Ireland at home and abroad.
However, as Rupert Murdoch and Cardinal Brady have found to their cost in the past week, openness and transparency are essential requirements of public life today.
Compared to MPs at Westminster, who cheated on their expenses, or ministers in the Irish government, who accepted bungs from corrupt businessmen, those at Stormont who keep their past from public scrutiny belong to a special league.
How, it may well be asked, can they demand transparency and openness in public office if they fail to practice it themselves?
How can they pronounce in moral judgment on such issues as child-abuse in the Catholic Church – as Martin McGuinness did last week – if they refuse to reveal the secrets of their own past activities?
It appears that, unless someone comes up with a formula agreed by all sides which would allow light to be shone on the so-called ‘dirty war’ of the 1970s and 80s, we will never read the full, unabridged, unexpurgated version of events surrounding Martin McGuinness, or many others.
We will continue to hang on every new revelation about child-abuse and phone-hacking, but we will remain in the dark about matters which are even more serious. That is because our unique brand of political stability depends on this imperfect arrangement.
The peace process decrees that boats cannot be rocked unduly and that embarrassing questions are swiftly airbrushed from our minds.
So long as transparency and openness are not taken as seriously here as they are elsewhere, things are unlikely to change.
The real casualty of the Good Friday Agreement is not the Union, as Martin McGuinness claims. The real casualty is truth.
By Alan Murray
3 May 2012
Martin McGuinness has denied reports circulating in Dublin that he has made contact with the Smithwick Tribunal to discuss the possibility of appearing at it.
A spokesman for the Deputy First Minister said last night that there was “no truth at all” in reports circulating at the tribunal that he had contacted its lawyers.
Last week Mr McGuinness denied suggestions he was Officer Commanding of the IRA’s Northern Command when two senior RUC officers were murdered.
Former army intelligence officer Ian Hurst told the tribunal that he understood that in 1989 Martin McGuinness was the O/C of Northern Command and would have had to sanction the ambushing of Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan at Jonesborough on their return from Dundalk Garda Station.
1 May 2012
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness says that Northern Ireland can govern itself.
Martin McGuinness has called on people in Britain to press the Government to end its constitutional link with Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fein’s Deputy First Minister with the power-sharing executive in Belfast also questioned the need for the continued existence of a Secretary of State.
The transfer of remaining powers would be a massive vote of confidence in the political institutions as well as a massive saving to the Exchequer.
In an address at the London School of Economics, he declared: “As Ian Paisley said to me during our first meeting ‘Martin, we can rule ourselves, we do not need these direct rule ministers coming over here telling us what to do’.”
Northern Ireland has had a British Secretary of State based in Hillsborough Castle, Co Down, since 1972. It followed the suspension of the Stormont Parliament because of civil unrest at the time.
But 14 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr McGuinness said there was also a need for a change in British Government policy in relation to the Union.
The MP for Mid Ulster said: “It has been often said that the Easter Rising marked the end of the British Empire as it was known. The days of colonialism and domination had to end. Peoples’ right to national self-determination and freedom would have to take preference to the economic needs of the colonial masters.
“And I say that, not to be provocative or to engage in rhetoric, but to simply mark out a significant landmark on the historical road which has led us to where we are now. The years preceding and following the First World War were a time of great political and constitutional upheaval for the British State. And I firmly believe that we are now living through a similar period of massive change – obviously not as dramatic as 100 years ago, but significant change nonetheless.
“In constitutional terms, whereas the Rising marked the beginning of the end of the Empire as people knew it, it is my belief that the Good Friday Agreement marked the end of the Union, as we know it.”
That belief, he said, had been strengthened and confirmed not just by what was happening in Ireland, but also with events elsewhere, with the demand for Scottish independence and greater Welsh autonomy. The constitutional fabric of the British State had been changed forever, he claimed.
By Noel McAdam
27 April 2012
First Minister Peter Robinson has suggested Martin McGuinness should give evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal over allegations he ordered ‘human bomb’ attacks during the Troubles.
The DUP leader said that given Sinn Fein demands for an international Truth Commission it would be a “good first step” if his Stormont counterpart went to the Dublin inquiry into alleged Garda collusion with the IRA.
But he added the evidence would only have political implications for the power-sharing administration if it could be held up in a court. Mr Robinson also admitted he has not discussed the barrage of allegations with the Deputy First Minister.
Ex-spy Ian Hurst told the tribunal earlier this week that Mr McGuinness, Sinn Fein’s deputy leader, authorised human bomb attacks.
In an interview with UTV, Mr Robinson said: “If people have committed crimes then they’re answerable, no matter what their position, and if there’s evidence and it’s brought forward then it’s up to due process to determine.”
24 Apr 2012
NORTHERN IRELAND Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness authorised the killings of two RUC officers in March 1989, it was claimed at the Smithwick Tribunal yesterday.
Former British intelligence officer Ian Hurst – otherwise known as Martin Ingram – claimed the intention of the IRA operation in which the two RUC officers were killed, was to abduct them, interrogate them, remove papers they were expected to be carrying and to ultimately execute them.
Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan were killed in an IRA ambush in south Armagh in March 1989, minutes after leaving a meeting in Dundalk Garda station in Co Louth. They were the most senior RUC officers to be killed in the Troubles.
The tribunal is inquiring into suggestions that members of the Garda in Dundalk colluded with the IRA in the killings.
Mr Hurst who has been given permission by the British Ministry of Defence to give evidence to the tribunal, asserted that the killings involved up to 60 IRA volunteers and supporters and the operation “was authorised at [the IRA’s] Northern command. Mr McGuinness was involved”.
He also said Mr McGuinness was “OC Northern command”, the senior IRA officer in Northern Ireland at the time.
He said he was given this information by his senior officer, known only as “Witness 82”, whose evidence is expected to also be read into the record this week.
Mr Hurst was a member of the British army’s intelligence service force research unit for three years from 1982, before he was transferred to the Ministry of Defence Middle East desk in London. While in the research unit he said he was aware of up to 10 military intelligence source reports which named Det Sgt Owen Corrigan of Dundalk Garda station as a man who had provided information to the IRA.
Some of this information was useful in organising the killings, according to the reports, he told the tribunal.
Mr Hurst also named former Sgt Leo Colton as another officer in Dundalk who was known to pass information to the IRA. He said both gardaí were described in intelligence reports as “rogue” gardaí.
He said Dundalk was referred to in Northern intelligence services as “Dodge City” and a “rat-infested hole” as it was a place where on-the-run republicans went for rest and recuperation. Others were Bundoran and Ballyshannon he said. Dundalk was also the place where the IRA’s internal security unit was based, he said.
Mr Hurst said he was aware of a call to his army unit late one evening from an RUC police officer who said he had in custody an “Alfredo Scappaticci” who had been involved in a drink-driving incident. Mr Hurst said Scappaticci was seeking the protection of the intelligence services, and used a code corresponding to the codename “Stakeknife”. He also said his superior, Witness 82, had subsequently confirmed that Stakeknife and Scappaticci were one and the same.
Mr Hurst asserted that information provided by Mr Corrigan to the IRA had been channelled through Scappaticci, who in turn channelled it to British intelligence through his own handler Witness 82. “Scappaticci was effectively the conduit for information, in other words as the handler of Mr Corrigan.”
Sinn Féin in a statement yesterday evening said: “Martin McGuinness totally rejects these allegations.”
A party spokesman questioned the bona fides of Mr Hurst. “Judge Smithwick has already been critical of the quality and nature of the evidence provided to his tribunal by the British state,” he said.
“This individual who uses a variety of names including Martin Ingram has no credibility. By his own admission he is part of a British security apparatus which played a very negative and malign role in the conflict, including widespread involvement in collusion,” he added.
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.”
25 Apr 2012
British intelligence services were operating all over Ireland and were receiving information from politicians, as well as members of the gardaí, the army and customs service, the Smithwick Tribunal has been told.
The claims were made by former British Army intelligence officer Ian Hurst during interviews with senior gardaí and in his own direct evidence.
The tribunal, which is investigating claims of collusion in the killing of two RUC officers in March 1989, heard today from retired Chief Supt Basil Walsh.
He said he met Mr Hurst twice in 2000 at his home in Carrick-on-Suir and in Waterford Garda Station.
During those meetings, Mr Hurst mentioned that a number of gardaí were passing information to the British intelligence services.
Mr Hurst said he had recruited a member of a garda task force in Donegal, who would come to Ballymena to pass on information, for which he would be paid £50 or £60.
He also said he was aware of a garda and a Senator talking to MI5.
However, the witness said Mr Hurst refused to name any of the individuals involved.
When the reading of Mr Hurst’s direct evidence to the tribunal resumed, it emerged that he said British military intelligence services had members of the Irish Army, as well as many gardaí and members of the customs service, passing information to them.
They also had sources in the RUC and customs service in Northern Ireland.
The witness served in the secretive Force Research Unit, the intelligence wing of the British Army in the North.
He said they worked on an all-Ireland basis and had bases in Sligo and Donegal.
Mr Hurst is subject to British Ministry of Defence restrictions as a result of which his evidence was heard behind closed doors last week and is now being read into the record following the removal of parts of his evidence.
Mr Hurst also reiterated his allegations against Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
He said that Mr McGuinness did not leave the IRA in the early 1970s as he claimed.
Mr McGuinness controlled Northern Command for most of the time and was also on the IRA Army Council and had responsibility for controlling people such as Freddie Scappaticci.
Northern Command would have had to sanction operations such as the use of human bombs and the ambush in which Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan died and which is being investigated by the tribunal.
It has been alleged that Mr Scappaticci was the deputy head of the IRA’s internal security unit and the most important British Army agent in the organisation.
Mr Scappaticci and Mr McGuinness both deny the allegations.
Earlier, retired Chief Supt Walsh said he was aware of Mr Scappaticci and of his involvement in the IRA.
However, he disputed several claims made by Mr Hurst in his evidence.
He said there was no mention of Owen Corrigan during their meetings. Mr Corrigan is one of three gardaí being investigated by the tribunal and he denies the claims that he passed information to the IRA.
The witness also denied saying that gardaí had tried to remove Mr Corrigan but could not because of political pressure.
Former Chief Supt Walsh also said he could not have been present at a third meeting that Mr Hurst said he was because he had retired from the gardaí at that time.
25 Apr 2012
Sinn Fein rejected the allegations against Mr McGuinness
Martin McGuinness was involved in authorising “human bomb” attacks, an ex-intelligence officer has told the Smithwick Tribunal.
Ian Hurst – also known as Martin Ingram – told the tribunal that contrary to Mr McGuinness’ claims, he did not leave the IRA in the 1970s.
More evidence given in private last week has been read into the tribunal.
Similar allegations which emerged on Tuesday were rejected by Mr McGuinness.
A Sinn Fein spokesman said Mr Hurst’s claims were “more lies from an individual with a highly dubious track record”.
The tribunal was established in 2005 to investigate allegations of Garda collusion in the murders of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Robert Buchanan.
According to evidence read at the tribunal on Wednesday, Mr Hurst claimed Mr McGuinness had still been officer commanding of the IRA’s northern command for “the vast majority of the time”.
Under cross-examination, Mr Hurst reiterated his belief that the murders of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan by the South Armagh brigade of the IRA would have to have been authorised by the IRA’s Northern Command, becuase they would have needed “political cover”.
He told the tribunal that “human bombs (were) also authorised by Martin McGuinness… he controls northern command for the vast majority of the time.
“Contrary to what he’d have you believe that he left the IRA in the 70s, it’s not true. He was a member of northern command and the Provisional IRA Council responsible for controlling people like Mr Scappaticci,” he said.
Mr Hurst also claimed that Freddie Scappaticci was the Army agent within the IRA known as Stakeknife.
He said Mr Scappaticci may have been aware of the plan to kill the RUC officers in advance, but he had no evidence of this.
The tribunal also heard that British intelligence services collected information on a 32-county basis, and had sources in the Republic ranging from a senator to revenue and customs officials and members of the Irish army and gardai.
24 April 2012
DEPUTY First Minister Martin McGuinness has denied any involvement in the IRA sanctioning an operation to abduct, torture and murder two of the most senior RUC officers killed in the Troubles.
The Sinn Fein chief rejected allegations made at the Smithwick tribunal in Dublin by a British intelligence officer Ian Hurst – also known as Martin Ingram – who claimed to have inside knowledge of the 1989 terrorist border ambush.
The inquiry into IRA-Garda collusion in the Irish Republic was told Mr McGuinness was in the IRA’s northern command and “involved” when it sanctioned the killing of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.
A spokesman for the Deputy First Minister said: “Martin McGuinness totally rejects these allegations.”
12 March 2012
The north’s Deputy First Minister has called on vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs to disband.
Martin McGuinness also called on RAAD to lift all threats against young people in Derry.
“RAAD have nothing at all to do with Irish Republicanism. As oppressors of the community in Derry they are anti-Republican. There is a groundswell of support in the city for RAAD to get off the backs of our community. That is now what needs to happen,” he says.
Mr McGuinness’s comments come only days after around 1000 people gathered in Derry’s Guildhall Square to call on the group to disband.
The public protest was organised by the ‘RAAD – Not In Our Name’ group and was attended by MLAs and councillors from both Sinn Fein and the SDLP.
“RAAD are a tiny group of people. They are not representative and are not accountable to anyone but themselves. They are driven entirely by ego not by any desire to tackle drug abuse in Derry or anywhere else,” Mr McGuinness says.
He says there is also a “very strong perception that some individuals associated with RAAD have profited financially from those involved in the drugs trade.”
Last week RAAD, who has also claimed responsibility for the murder in Buncrana of Derry man Andy Allen, issued threats against four young men in the city.
Two of the men were shot in the ankles in the Bogside on Thursday evening but a community worker associated with the Rosemount Community Centre revealed on Friday evening that the threat against the other two men had been lifted after negotiations.
The group has also claimed responsibility for the murder in Buncrana of Derry man Andy Allen.
“Shooting young people who have become addicted to drugs or threatening them from their homes does nothing to tackle this very serious issue. Indeed it makes the situation worse. In the most recent incident in Derry, RAAD shot two young people from a prominent Republican family who had no involvement at all in drugs,” the deputy First Minister says.
“Drug dealing can only be tackled through on one hand the PSNI taking decisive action against drug dealers and on the other through proper support for our young people who have become addicted to drugs.
“Those people who lead RAAD and who are well known in Derry need to understand that their activities make no positive contribution whatsoever to improving the lives of the people of Derry. In reality the opposite is the case.
“The necessity for a civilised and progressive approach to drugs and those affected by them is being undermined by the brutal, thuggish and bullying actions of those who use patriotic labels for their criminality. They need to issue a clear and definitive statement removing all of the threats they have issued and disband their group once and for all.”
Monday 23 January 2012
PETER Hain said that on July 27, 2005, the day before the IRA declared that it was ending violence for good and agreeing to decommission, Gerry Adams had phoned him to request a private meeting.
The Sinn Fein president was unhappy with the Irish Republic’s government for being tougher than the British by demanding pictures of decommissioning (which in the past Dr Paisley had similarly demanded).
According to Mr Hain, the Sinn Fein leader told him: “My instructions are to show only Tony Blair and Jonathan Powell a copy of the IRA statement.
“I am passing it to you exclusively and I don’t want it shown to the Irish government. They can stew in it. I have to have Sean Kelly out [of prison] and both governments have to agree to welcome the statement. You must know we are acting in good faith and respect your good faith.”
Mr Hain added: “Adams was, however, practiced at squeezing every last item out of a key moment like this, and was well versed in the art of brinkmanship. ‘The problem is the statement will not issue from the IRA until Dublin agrees over this outstanding issue between us’.
“Almost as he said this he broke off as a call from the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, came through on his mobile, and Adams told him: ‘I can’t deliver photos of the decommissioning of IRA weapons … photos are impossible’.”
Mr Hain said that the Irish government’s insistence on photographs appeared to be at the insistence of the Tainaiste, Michael McDowell, a staunch opponent of Sinn Fein and the Taoiseach was worried that his coalition government could even fall over the issue.
Mr Adams then demanded that no photographs be taken of the 1,000-word handwritten statement which Jonathan Phillips was forced to copy before sending to London, at Mr Adams’ insistence, by secure fax rather than email (something Mr Hain was baffled at as the government email system was more secure than a fax which had to be sent on an open line).
While the impasse with Dublin remained the Sinn Fein leader sat outside Hillsborough Castle in the sunshine with Gerry Kelly “munching fruit and cake”.
The deal was finalised with Dublin late that night, Mr Hain said, and the following morning he briefed Dr Paisley in person who was “pleased to be pre-informed, he was relaxed, chatty and in witty mode”.
However, several days later he said that “Paisley was in decidedly different mode”.
“On August 3 a furious delegation which he led came to see me, the two women Assembly members refusing to shake my welcoming hand.
“Peter Robinson was at his bombastic best. They had simply banked the IRA statement, typically finding fault with some of its wording, and were on the warpath. The issues were toxic: the release of Sean Kelly, the disbandment of the Royal Irish Regiment and the dismantling of the south Armagh watch towers.”
Mr Hain said that his past involvement with groups calling for the UK to leave Northern Ireland had created some initial suspicion among unionists.
“Although I had never had any truck with the IRA, my anti-colonial upbringing made me sympathetic to the political aims of Irish republicanism, though certainly not the violent methods,” the South African-born anti-Apartheid campaigner said.
Mr Hain said that he had been involved in the Time To Go Labour campaign organised by Clare Short in the 1980s and had at that point met Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness who had “told me they wanted a political settlement, even if the IRA was still active”.
He said that Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness were “the most professional and tough negotiators I had encountered in politics. Well read and meticulously prepared, they were courteous and straightforward. I was briefed that they remained members of the IRA Army Council, effectively the organisation’s Politburo. I got on with them well”.
He said that Mr Adams was “haunted by the memory of Michael Collins, the IRA leader assassinated from within his own ranks in 1922. This followed Collins’ agreement to the Anglo-Irish Treaty the year before”.
He said that in meetings Adams and McGuinness would occasionally play “hard cop, soft cop”.
“Bespectacled and tall, with greying black hair and a bad back, Adams often seemed tired.”
He said that despite “our friendly relations” Adams and McGuinness had gone behind his back to the Prime Minister and suggested that he should not have confidence in his secretary of state.
He said that on another occasion the pair had asked to see him on his own and after squeezing into a box-like room they had aggressively insisted that pressure on them risked “sabotaging the whole process” in terms which Mr Hain described as “physically threatening”.
Several days earlier Mr Adams had phoned Mr Hain to tell him that the statement would be coming. Mr Adams had told him: “It would be such a decisive, historic move that even for him to discuss it with me beforehand was potentially treasonable to the IRA.”
He wasn’t so keen to join the party when Queen Elizabeth visited Ireland last year, but Martin McGuinness has changed tack and said he would be willing to meet her in the future.
McGuinness declined invitations to attend official events when Lizzie popped round last May, while his Sinn Féin colleague Gerry Adams was quite vocal about the topic in the Dáil, as he asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny to respect the right of Sinn Féin representatives to stay away.
By Jennifer O’Leary
13 Jan 2012
Martin McGuinness has said he was ‘disturbed’ to learn that documents detailing paramilitary decommissioning are held in a Boston College archive.
The deputy first minister made his remarks at the British Irish Summit in Dublin Castle on Friday.
Boston College has said that documents in its archive will remain confidential for 30 years.
The body which oversaw paramilitary decommissioning in Northern Ireland presented its final report in 2011.
The entire process was monitored by the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning (IICD).
In a statement to the BBC, Boston College said: “There is no conceivable reason why the British or Irish governments, which set the terms for the IICD papers when they were sent to the college, would break those terms.”
Martin McGuinness conceded that it was “probably very unlikely” that the documents would “see the light of day in the course of the next 30 years”.
But he said separate legal action involving Boston College over interview transcripts of former paramilitaries has “made people nervous”.
“As someone who was very much part of breaking the deadlock on how armed groups could put their weapons beyond use, I am as disturbed as anyone else about the fact that against the backdrop of what we have been listening to, that we now have a situation where the IIDC body, obviously with the support of governments, lodged the results of the decommissioning process with Boston College.”
“At the time when it was mooted, I expressed my clear disapproval of such an approach and made it absolutely clear that the information should have been held by both governments,” he said.
His comments come after Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said it was of “major concern” that the IICD documents were being held at the US college, describing the decision as “potentially damaging to peace and reconciliation”.
“These papers catalogue the details of the engagement of paramilitary groups with the decommissioning process and for reasons of security and safety it is imperative that these papers are not made public for a sufficient period of time,” he said.
“What is of major concern is that these papers have been given to an institution outside the island of Ireland which is now involved in a major controversy about protecting the integrity of its sealed archive.”
In response, the Republic’s Justice Minister Alan Shatter said such comments were “disingenuous, inaccurate and misleading”.
In a statement he said the IICD detailed the different arrangements made by them for storage of their documentation.
“Papers from political parties setting out their views on decommissioning and other private correspondence received from individuals was deposited by them for safe-keeping in Boston College, subject to an embargo on their disclosure for 30 years,” said Mr Shatter.
“Details of the quantity of arms decommissioned by the various paramilitary groups were placed with the US State Department to preserve their security and confidentiality on the basis of the commission’s assessment that the time was not right for them to be made public.”
Minister Shatter also said that both the Republic’s department of justice and the Northern Ireland Office have been monitoring the situation in relation to the current legal proceedings in Boston, pertaining to the oral archives and “will remain in contact about the matter”.
“However, there is no reason to believe that there are particular grounds for concern about the arrangements made by the commission, after consultation with the then governments,” he said.
Boston College is the subject of a legal challenge by the British authorities who have requested that the college hand-over interviews with former republicans and loyalists.
What was termed the ‘Belfast Project’ took place over five years from 2001 and involved academics, historians and journalists conducting interviews with former republicans and loyalists about their activities during the Troubles.
In return for honest accounts, those who were interviewed were promised that their identities would be kept confidential and that the interviews would be released only after their deaths.
As part of a legal challenge by the British authorities, transcripts of interviews that former IRA member Dolours Price gave have been received by US officials.
Writer Ed Moloney and republican researcher Anthony McIntyre, who carried out the interviews, are trying to stop the material being handed over to the British authorities.
The people who Mr Moloney and Mr McIntyre interviewed spoke only with the caveat that the material would not be made public until after their deaths.
Boston College has said the project was “based on a contract between Boston College and project leader Ed Moloney, which stated that they would be kept confidential until the death of the participants to the extent American law allows”.