Tebbit withdraws remarks about wishing McGuinness shot

Former Chingford MP speaks about his wife’s pain since explosion

Former Conservative Party chairman Norman Tebbit  withdraws remarks. Photograph: Dan Chung/Reuters

Former Conservative Party chairman Norman Tebbit withdraws remarks. Photograph: Dan Chung/Reuters

Sat, Apr 12, 2014, 01:00

Former Conservative Party chairman Norman Tebbit has withdrawn remarks he made about wishing to see Martin McGuinness shot by dissident republicans.

Lord Tebbit said in a radio interview, following Mr McGuinness’s invitation to Windsor Castle by the queen on Tuesday: “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.”

However, following a storm of protest, including a public rebuke by a Conservative cabinet minister, the former Chingford MP has withdrawn his remarks.

He told BBC Radio Ulster “I don’t think I would advise anyone or entreat anybody to shoot Mr McGuinness – I would welcome it if he was brought to trial, of course.”

‘Owned up to crimes’

“When he has owned up to the crimes that were plotted and carried out by the IRA when he was a leader and could have said ‘no we must not do that’, when he has pleaded for forgiveness and expressed his repentance, then of course I would be very pleased to meet him and talk about those things,” he said.

Lord Tebbit said his wife Margaret was among 31 people seriously injured in the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the 1984 Tory conference. His wife was paralysed in the explosion and had suffered poor health since then, Lord Tebbit told the programme.

‘Great deal of pain’

“She is in a great deal of pain, she is extremely limited in what she can do and she is entirely dependent on people to look after her,” he said.

“We are not able to go on a holiday or anything of that kind, and she can scarcely go to visit anyone because there are very few places that are adequately equipped for her to be looked after.

She lives a very restricted life – she is in prison.”

Mr McGuinness said the original comments were regrettable and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said they illustrated the need for a wide-ranging process to deal with the legacy of the Troubles. Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers said Lord Tebbit’s original comments were “highly dangerous”.