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Dublin: 1 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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Martin McGuinness: 'I never talk about shooting anybody but I was a member of the IRA'

McGuinness said forty years on, he is still proud that he was a member of the IRA.

NORTHERN IRELAND’S DEPUTY First Minister Martin McGuinness has refused to say if he shot any British soldiers or police officers during the Troubles, in a recent interview with Irish TV.

In the interview, which is due to be broadcast this Sunday, McGuinness was asked about his time in the IRA.

Journalist Eamonn Mallie asked: “How did you feel when you pulled the trigger to kill a soldier or police officer?”

McGuinness said over the years he has been asked questions like this in interviews.

“For me to give an answer like that is to sensationalise,” he answered.

I never talk about shooting anybody but I do acknowledge I was a member of the IRA and as a member of the IRA I obviously engaged in fighting back against the British army.”

“You mean killing, Martin, don’t you?” Mallie asked.

What I am not going to do is give people a sensational headline by saying on such a such a night I was involved in a gun battle with the British army and 25 British army soldiers were killed. I am not going to do it and I’m not getting into that.”

He was asked if he ever talked to himself about the things he did during his time in the IRA.

Ulster talks (Adams & McGuinness) Source: EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

I would have felt ashamed if I had not been part of the resistance and part of fighting back against the forces of the state. And remember, the forces that I fought against were armed to the teeth with the most modern weapons imaginable…
… I am very proud I was part of the IRA in Derry and involved in repelling the designs of the British state forces against people who were being treated as second and third class citizens.

“I believed that in a situation where the community that I came from were being treated like second- and third-class citizens that I had a responsibility to fight back against it. And I don’t apologise to anybody for having done that. I think it was the right thing to do.”

He added that 40 years on, he is still proud he was a member of the IRA.

Politics - Martin McGuinness Source: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES

He said, however, that it ended up in a vicious cycle of conflict and an awful lot of people got injured and killed, including British soldiers, members of the IRA and innocent civilians and prisoners.

He said it was his decision alone to join the armed organisation as violence was being used against his community, he said.

“…the battle of Bogside violence was being used by the police.”

He said they had to use violence against them to defeat them and keep them out of their areas. He said they had to “send a powerful message to London that nothing was normal in north of Ireland and something dramatic had to change it”.

Martin McGuinness Bloody Sunday inquiry Source: EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

Everyone is accountable for their own actions and everybody has to make judgements based on their own conscious on whether they believe that what they are doing is right or wrong.”

McGuinness rejects a suggestion in the Saville report that McGuinness was probably armed with a sub-machine gun on Bloody Sunday. The report itself says there was no evidence to back up the finding. 

“There was absolutely no substance to that allegation,” said McGuinness.

On Bloody Sunday a decision was made that the IRA would not be on the streets that day, he said. “All weapons were moved to dumps.”

He said it was absolute nonsense, stating that he was categorically not armed that day. 

McGuinness said he was very conscious of the role he is playing now “in what is seen as one of the most important peace processes in the world today”.

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