Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Martin McGuinness and DUP bicker on eve of Haass process talks

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness embarrassed at level of disdain for Stormont parties
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness embarrassed at level of disdain for Stormont parties

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has clashed with DUP MLAs over the IRA massacre at Teebane and the fall-out from the failure to agree the Haass plans.

The exchanges in the Assembly also saw the Deputy First Minister admit he is "embarrassed" at the level of disdain the public has for the Stormont parties in the aftermath of the failed blueprint on flags, parades and dealing with the Troubles legacy.

The DUP's Paul Frew linked victims being at the heart of the Haass document with last week's 22nd anniversary of the Teebane atrocity for which no one has been brought to justice.

Referring to the "heinous multiple murder", he asked if Mr McGuinness who "by his own admission was a member and leader of the IRA (would) give all the information that he has to the PSNI to assist the victims and the families of those murdered that day".

Mr McGuinness said: "The member takes a great liberty in attributing to me information that I have no knowledge of whatsoever. We are all much better working positively and constructively together to find solutions as opposed to engaging in what I consider to be a very low attempt to score a political point."

The DUP's Jimmy Spratt asked if Mr McGuinness would also congratulate the authorities for continuing to seek justice for the family of murdered former IRA man Eamon Collins – after the PSNI revealed it has recovered a DNA sample from the murder scene – "in the light of the Haass proposals on the past".

Mr McGuinness replied: "We had a remedy to deal with those issues. In the context of, hopefully, reaching agreement on how we take that forward, there will be many other cases, not just that of Mr Collins, that, if the families so wish, need to be dealt with."

Ahead of the latest meeting of the leaders of the five main parties on the from the Haass process, Mr McGuinness added: "It is incumbent on all of us to be positive and constructive and to recognise that the lot of politicians among the general public is not great. I find that embarrassing. What we need to do is show the public right across society that we have the ability to tackle these difficult issues."

The Sinn Fein leader also repeated his view that there is no point in a setting up a new working party to examine the final Haass document, rejected by the DUP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance parties when the talks collapsed in the early hours of New Year's Eve.

BACKGROUND

Eight Protestant workmen were killed and a further six injured when the IRA detonated a bomb at Teebane crossroads, between Omagh and Cookstown, on January 17, 1992. The construction workers were in a van on the way home from repairing an Army base in Omagh and the IRA said they were killed for "collaborating" with the "forces of occupation".

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