SINN FÉIN DEPUTY Pádraig MacLochlainn claims that he was misled by the producers of ’Tonight With Vincent Browne’ before an episode of the show on which he was a guest on Wednesday night.
During the show which discussed the Smithwick Report on the killing of two RUC officers in Armagh, MacLochlainn defended the IRA’s campaign and said that the IRA members who killed the two RUC men “had a duty as much as Michael Collins and the IRA of the War of Independence”.
His comments were strongly criticised by the other guests on the panel which included a solicitor for the family of one of the dead RUC men , Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan and journalist Sarah McInerney.
His words also sparked an intense debate on Twitter during the course of the show.
Speaking on Highland Radio today however, the Donegal North-East TD claims that the producers of the show did not tell him the solicitor was going to present for the debate and insisted that since the show he has received significant support from the public who feel he was “stitched up”:
“I’ve never seen the levels of emails, phonecalls and texts of support from people, not just in Donegal but across the country because what of they saw as a stitch up with four journalists including Vincent Browne against myself,” he said.
What I was advised beforehand was that we would talk about Smithwick briefly but when I arrived at the studio I realised that they had the solicitor for the families there and clearly the intention was to embarrass and humiliate.
MacLochlainn’s appearance followed an earlier interview by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams who suggested that the RUC officers killed did not take appropriate care for their safety in the context of the north’s security situation.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin had earlier criticised Adams’ comments comparing them to the Widgery Report int ‘Bloody Sunday’, something which is widely seen as a whitewashed distortion of the truth.
Speaking today, Martin reiterated those comments saying that Sinn Fein is attempting to “rewrite history”, something he says they have been “quite adept at” :
You hear Padraig MacLochlainn saying, ‘Do people realise what it was like in the nationalist communities in the north?’ Well I’ve spoken to people who lived in nationalist communities in the north and they’ve a different perspective to deputy MacLochlainn. It’s that if the IRA didn’t do what they did then life would have been far more tolerable for them in their daily lives in South Armagh and Belfast and Derry and elsewhere.
“I’ve spoken to ex-IRA people who now don’t believe it was worth all the murder and the mayhem, particularly from the 1970s onwards so there’s a lot of different perspectives out there,” said Martin.