Conservative cabinet member rebukes Tebbit over wish to see McGuinness shot

Villiers denounces former Tory chairman’s comments as ‘highly dangerous’

Norman Tebbit, whose comments have been condemned by the Northern secretary. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

Norman Tebbit, whose comments have been condemned by the Northern secretary. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty Images

Thu, Apr 10, 2014, 20:05


The former British cabinet minister who said he wished to see Martin McGuinness shot by dissident republicans has been rebuked by his own party.

Northern secretary Theresa Villiers said comments by one-time Conservative party chairman Lord Tebbit were “highly dangerous”.

Lord Tebbit said he hoped Mr McGuinness would be shot by dissidents after attending the State banquet in honour of President Higgins with Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday.

Lord Tebbit said in a radio interview, following Mr McGuinness’s invitation to Windsor Castle by the queen: “There’s always the possibility that a member of the Real IRA will be so outraged by Mr McGuinness bowing to the queen that they might shoot him in the back for it. We can but hope.”

Asked by the BBC if he meant what he said, Lord Tebbit said: “That’s the way it is.”

Lord Tebbit and his wife were seriously injured in the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton at the 1984 Conservative conference.

Ms Villiers said: “Nothing can justify calling on anyone to commit murder.”

She told BBC Northern Ireland: “I of course recognise that he has suffered greatly at the hands of terrorists but nothing can justify calling on anyone to commit murder.

“Lord Tebbit is an individual who speaks his mind,” she added. “It’s not for me to say if sanctions should be or should not be applied, but those comments were unacceptable.

“It is still a matter of genuine regret that threats are made against politicians in Northern Ireland, so I think it highly dangerous of Lord Tebbit to make those remarks.”

Mr McGuinness said he is not going to be provoked by the remarks. Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the comments illustrated a need for an inclusive arrangement to be agreed to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.