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Race for the Áras

McGuinness slams FG's 'black propaganda and dirty tricks'

Fresh from debating Gay Mitchell, Martin McGuinness lashes out after a series of direct attacks from senior figures within Fine Gael.

MARTIN MCGUINNESS has attacked Fine Gael for using what he called “dirty tricks” and “black propaganda” after a number of high-profile Fine Gael figures launched stinging attacks on his bid for the presidency.

In a day of intense attacks on the Sinn Féin candidate, environment minister Phil Hogan told the Sunday Independent that US-based corporations would be “appalled” if McGuinness was to take the office, describing him as a “terrorist”.

McGuinness also engaged Mitchell in a bitter head-to-head debate on Newstalk, in which the Fine Gael MEP asserted that McGuinness was drawing down the entirety of his salary as Deputy First Minister – in spite of McGuinness’s own insistence that he was only drew the average industrial wage.

During that debate, a message posted on the Twitter account of Fine Gael’s chief whip Paul Kehoe implied a connection between McGuinness and the robbery on Northern Bank in 2004.

McGuinness told reporters yesterday afternoon that Fine Gael’s tactics amounted to “black propaganda”, saying he was happy to allow his bank accounts to be scrutinised by anyone who was interested.

The bad blood between the two candidates spilled over to today’s Morning Ireland, where SF’s Dáil finance spokesman Pearse Doherty and Mitchell’s director of elections Charlie Flanagan continued to spar.

“I don’t believe it’s propaganda to tell the truth… of any colour, either black or green,” Flanagan said, dismissing McGuinness’s allegations of smear tactics. “It’s just the plain terrifying truth.”

Doherty responded that FG was “not calling it as it is… I can’t believe Charlie Flanagan is so ill-informed”. The IRA apologised for its actions and for the deaths of “non-combatants” in the Northern Ireland conflict “years ago”.

Doherty also backed up Mary Lou McDonald’s argument that McGuinness was an ideal candidate to try and attract new investment to Ireland, noting that he had been in New York on a trade mission while he was being nominated for the presidency.

Flanagan countered to say he believed broadcaster Gay Byrne “had a point” when he described McGuinness as a “trained liar” and insisted Ireland needed a president that the public felt it could trust.

Separately this morning, the Belfast Telegraph reports that McGuinness had acknowledged some of the killings could be described as “murder”, a shift from previous phraseology used by both Sinn Féin and the IRA itself.

The Irish Sun also leads with news that Senator David Norris, whose campaign continues to be embroiled in speculation about the content of unreleased letters seeking clemency for his former partner Ezra Nawi, had later lobbied on behalf of another partner.

Norris had raised the citizenship status of his then-partner Tevfik Akin in the Seanad in April 2007 – though he had acknowledged his personal relationship with Akin during the discussion.

“The gentleman in the Visitor’s Gallery demands to know who put a black mark against him and what is that black mark,” Norris said at the time.

Read: Chief Whip launches Twitter attack on McGuinness >

More: Martin McGuinness: I am the epitome of first-class citizenship>

Diary: Where the #Aras11 candidates will be today

In full:’s coverage of the Race for the Áras >

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