McGuinness confronted by son of Army private killed by IRA in 1983


SINN FÉIN presidential candidate Martin McGuinness was confronted by the son of the late Private Patrick Kelly while canvassing in Athlone, Co Westmeath, yesterday.

Pte Kelly and Garda Gary Sheehan were shot and killed while trying to rescue kidnapped businessman Don Tidey, who was being held by the Provisional IRA at Derrada Woods, Co Leitrim, on December 16th, 1983.

Holding a picture of his father, Moate man David Kelly said “I want justice for my father. I believe you know the names of the killers of my father and I want you to tell me who they are. You were on the army council of the IRA.”

In response Mr McGuinness denied any knowledge of the individuals involved. “I don’t know their names,” he remarked. He further denied he was on the army council of the IRA.

Labelling Mr McGuinness a liar, Mr Kelly said, “he was loyal to this Irish Republic and I am loyal to him as a son and I want justice for him. I want justice for my father and I want your comrades who committed this crime to hand themselves in to the gardaí,” insisted Mr Kelly.

“I don’t know who was responsible for the killing of your father but I fully and absolutely sympathise with you,” Mr McGuinness replied. “I have been at the heart of a very important peace process in the North over the last 20 years which has brought conflict and violence and death to an end and I am going to continue with that work because that’s the work of peace.”

“This is in the past you are heartbroken on account of it and my sympathy is 100 per cent with you and your family,” he added.

Mr Kelly continued, “I just want to say to you before there can be any reconciliation in this country there has to be truth”.

Mr McGuinness replied: “Absolutely and we have proposed that there should be an international independent commission on truth.

“I want truth now today, murder is murder. We are not going to agree, we are all human beings, I don’t mean any harm I just want justice for my father,” said Mr Kelly.

Sinn Féin supporter and former Irish Army officer John McNamara offered his sympathy to Mr Kelly. “I totally and utterly sympathise with you. However, I will be canvassing and I am canvassing for Martin McGuinness because he is a peacemaker,” he said.

“Well don’t shake my hand then you are an absolute disgrace,” Mr Kelly replied. “You are spitting on my father’s grave that’s what you are doing. No justice for him, he won’t tell us who killed him and you are canvassing for that lot, you are an absolute disgrace.”

Mr McNamara told Mr Kelly there was a requirement for peace and reconciliation.

“Before we have reconciliation we need a bit of truth. Who killed Paddy Kelly and Garda Gary Sheehan from Monaghan, who did it?” asked Mr Kelly.

“I don’t know and Martin McGuinness doesn’t know,” Mr McNamara replied.

“It was a terrorist war killed my father and a garda, the security forces of this State,” said Mr Kelly.

“By canvassing for them, by voting for them, it’s like spitting on my father’s grave,” he added.

“The last person I would suggest that anybody should spit on is a retired military soldier, absolute heroes in my eyes. I have served overseas. I was an officer in the Irish Army, I have served overseas, I have witnessed very, very many brave acts by many Irish soldiers at home and abroad. I believe . . . we need an absolute requirement for peace and reconciliation,” added Mr McNamara.