Belfast Telegraph

Martin McGuinness: Day mum found my IRA beret in the bedroom

By Rebecca Black

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has spoken openly for the first time about when he joined the IRA in 1970.

Speaking to veteran broadcast journalist Peter Taylor in a new documentary entitled Who Won The War?, Mr McGuinness described how his mother found out he had joined the terrorist organisation when she discovered a black beret in his bedroom.

The Sinn Fein man would have been around 19 at the time.

It is believed Mr McGuinness first joined the Official IRA before moving to the Provisionals. He told the Saville Tribunal in 2001 that he was second-in-command in Londonderry at the time of the Bloody Sunday shootings in 1972.

"I joined the IRA in 1970," he told Mr Taylor.

When asked if his mother knew, he said: "Not initially she didn't know, absolutely I didn't tell her, I didn't tell either of my parents but my mother found, I think it was a black beret or something like that in the house, and immediately, well it traumatised her.

"She didn't hit me with it or anything like that or if they were gloves, there was no smack across the face with gloves.

"I think that it was a moment in time and she was obviously annoyed at the prospect that all of our lives were changing and maybe mine more dramatically than anyone elses."

By contrast, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, who also took part in the programme, again strongly denied he was ever a member of the IRA.

Former IRA Chief of Staff Sean Mac Stiofain told the programme that Mr Adams was a member. However, Mr Adams would not confirm it.

"I am very clear on this, I have consistently denied membership of the IRA although I have never disassociated myself," he told Mr Taylor, who put it to him that no one believes him on that score.

Mr Adams responded: "Well that's a matter for them."

When asked if violence paid, Mr Adams objected to the use of the word violence, saying it was "pejorative".

"That's what the war resulted in, it would have been better that there was no war but you show me anywhere in the world where people have won either a modicum of decency and rights, or indeed in terms of colonial wars, won independence, that it didn't happen after blood-letting," he said.

Mr McGuinness added that he still believed there would be a united Ireland one day and that he was still fighting for it, albeit fighting politically.

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