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McGuinness on his IRA past: 'I fought against the British Army on the streets of Derry'

“I have never tried to pull the wool over people’s eyes about my history,” he said in a 2015 TheJournal.ie interview.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

MARTIN MCGUINNESS BECAME frustrated with questions about his IRA past when he ran as a candidate in the 2011 Presidential Election. “Most Irish journalists, if Nelson Mandela was sitting in front of them, would not go down this line of questioning,” he told reporters at one point.

“I have never tried to pull the wool over people’s eyes about my history,” he said in an interview with TheJournal.ie in December 2015. And for the record, he added, he would never compare himself with the former South African president.

McGuinness had taken on a leadership role within the IRA by his early 20s and was second-in-command in the organisation in Derry around the time of Bloody Sunday in 1972. He had grown up as one of seven children, and gravitated to the nascent civil rights movement in his youth.

Asked why he never talked about shooting anybody or individual incidents, McGuinness often gave a similar answer – that he was reluctant to provide sensationalist headlines. “I fought against the British Army on the streets of Derry and I don’t make any apology [...] about that,” he told us.

The then-Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister also spoke about his hopes for a positive working partnership with Arlene Foster, who was about to replace Peter Robinson as DUP leader and as McGuinness’s opposite number in the Stormont executive.

By Daragh Brophy, video by Nicky Ryan. Original interview by Hugh O’Connell, video by Michelle Hennessy.

Related ‘He served the people of Northern Ireland’: Tributes to Martin McGuinness >

Read: What happened when Martin McGuinness met the Queen of England >

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