Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Martin McGuinness refuses to confirm if IRA will say sorry to its victims of Troubles

Martin McGuinness
Queen Elizabeth shakes hands with Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness watched by First Minister Peter Robinson

Sinn Fein has played down newspaper reports that the former leadership of the IRA could be preparing to offer an unequivocal apology to the terror group’s victims.

The party’s chairman Declan Kearney said he doubted whether reports in the Sunday Business Post had been founded on any firm investigative basis.

He added that the IRA had “left the stage” seven years ago.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also played down reports of a fresh apology while speaking to RTE’s Miriam O’Callaghan on Saturday night.

He said reconciliation was vital, but required efforts by all sides in the conflict to deal with the legacy of the past.

During the live show, the Sinn Fein politician also revealed details of his private meeting with the Queen on her visit to Belfast on Wednesday.

That included the acknowledging of the IRA murder of the Queen’s cousin Lord Mountbatten in 1979.

“I said to them that I recognised that they too had lost a loved one,” he said.

“I did not shy away from the issue because I think these are things that we need to face up to.”

But as Mr McGuinness spoke of his “passionate” belief in the peace process, one woman who lost her sister in an IRA gun attack said she felt sick at what she claimed was his continual justification of IRA violence.

Ann Travers used Twitter to vent her frustration about Mr McGuinness’ “implication that the IRA were heroes”. She posted: “I feel sick. Every time I start to soften things are said that are hurtful and insulting.”

Ms Travers’ sister was shot dead and her magistrate father, Tom Travers, badly injured when they were ambushed in 1984.

During the interview Mr McGuinness spoke of his regret over “all” the deaths and that “war is absolutely terrible”.

Ms Travers, who now lives in the Republic, said: “My Mary wasn’t in a war. She was walking home from mass with mum and dad, arm in arm with them.

“I just felt hurt to be honest. I felt that it was justifying my sister’s murder and my father’s attempted murder.”

Meanwhile, Mr McGuinness has revealed agreement has been reached on delivering a long-delayed cross-border forum to bring together parliamentarians from Belfast and Dublin at Stormont and Leinster House.

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