Martin McGuinness: “I wasn’t a member of the IRA when that happened…”

Sinn Féin’s candidate in the Irish Presidential election, Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA, told RTÉ’s This Week programme yesterday that

“If people want to examine my record, let them examine my record.  I stand on my record.”

But not before McGuinness declined the invitation by Colm O’Mongain for full disclosure of his role in the Provisional IRA, and quoting Tony Blair, [but not Jonathan Powell? – Ed] and citing meetings with US Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, and, of course, Nelson Mandela. 

Today Martin McGuinness has complained about a media fixation with his past.

Mr McGuinness accused the media of being fixated about his past and sensational headlines about his time in the IRA.

“I remember I think it was 1974, I am open to correction but I think it was the early 1970s, an ITN reporter reported that I had boasted about killing eight soldiers in the Free Derry area, that was a total and outright lie,” he said.

“I would say if I get into answering question for question the questions of the media in that regard, I will be answering those from now until kingdom come.”

He’s deployed the ‘fixation’ defence before.  Notably during the Saville Inquiry.  As a BBC report from 2003 mentions

The Mid Ulster MP accused the inquiry of being fixated by his past.

But he added: “I left the IRA in the early part of the 1970s.”

That date is narrowed down to 1974 in this BBC profile.  Whether anyone believes it is a different matter.  As the UTV report notes

“I’ve never hidden the fact that I was in the IRA and I told the Saville tribunal that I left the IRA in late 1974,” Mr McGuinness said. “So that’s my position.”

By-passing a great chunk of the 20th Century may have been the unofficial agreement between certain interested parties here, but it seems unwise to test that in a Presidential election.

As David Norris found out, you can’t cherry-pick your record and expect others not to question your self-selected, and self-serving, account.  [Even if they are stupid questions? – Ed]  Indeed.

Outside of his northern comfort zone, Martin McGuinness can expect the questioning of his past to continue if he wants to be President of Ireland.  As RTÉ’s Tommie Gorman says in the audio clip from This Week.

“In many respects it’s a moment of truth for Sinn Féin.”

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