Martin McGuinness refuses to say if he killed people while in IRA

Senior Sinn Féin member is asked question repeatedly during new interview on Irish TV

In an upcoming episode of Eamonn Mallie meets... Martin McGuinness talks about his personal and political life. Video: Irish TV

 

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, has refused to say how many people he may have killed while a senior figure in the republican paramilitary organisation.

During a TV interview to be broadcast on Sunday, Mr McGuinness is repeatedly pressed by journalist Eamonn Mallie about his actions during and after his time as an IRA commander in Derry in the early 1970s.

Asked how he could reconcile his actions with being a “devout Catholic” and how he felt when “you shot your first soldier or police officer”, Mr McGuinness replies: “I never talk about shooting anybody. But I do acknowledge that 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 asks in the programme, the first of a series of interviews which will be broadcast on satellite channel Irish TV.

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

“I am not into that and I am not going to get into that,” replies the senior Sinn Féin figure.

Mallie then asks: “Do you ever talk to yourself, though, about the things you did, the actual shooting of the people you saw as the enemy; do you ever talk to yourself inside your head about that?”

Mr McGuinness replies: “Obviously everybody is accountable for their own actions, and everybody has to make judgments based on their own conscience as to whether or not they believe what they were doing is right or wrong.

Second-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.

“The difficulty is that we effectively ended up in what was a vicious cycle of conflict in which an awful lot of people got hurt and an awful lot of people got killed: British soldiers, innocent civilians and defenceless prisoners.”

Mallie further asked had he “repented with God” about being a member of an organisation that killed people.

“I was proud to be a member of the IRA,” replied Mr McGuinness. “I am still 40 years on proud that I was a member of the IRA. I am not going to be a hypocrite and sit here and say something different.”

Mr McGuinness also told Mallie he accepted the statements by Gerry Adams that he was never in the IRA, even though Mallie said nobody in Northern Ireland believed it.

The interview is part of a series of Sunday night Irish TV interviews called Eamonn Mallie Meets, where the journalist interviews people such as the Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, poet Michael Longley, socialist and journalist Eamonn McCann, and the Rev Kyle Paisley, son of the late Ian Paisley, who gave his last detailed interview to Mallie.

Eamonn Mallie Meets is on Irish TV at 10pm on Sunday, October 11th on Sky (Channel 191), Freesat (Channel 400), Free to Air set-top box & evision (Channel 191)