Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 28 May 2016

Martin McGuinness: I'll reveal details of my IRA past as part of any information retrieval process

By Noel McAdam

Published 01/03/2016

Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness
Jim Allister
Jennifer McCann
Gregory Campbell

Martin McGuinness has given his broadest hint to date that he may be prepared to reveal more about his IRA past.

The Deputy First Minister told MLAs he was "absolutely willing" to appear before an information retrieval process if required to do so.

Questioned by TUV leader Jim Allister in the Assembly, the senior Sinn Fein MLA said he believed people should be encouraged to participate in any system established in the future.

"If I am required to go forward on any point of relevance to myself I am absolutely willing to do that," he said.

Mr Allister asked Mr McGuinness, who has long admitted being second-in-command of IRA in Londonderry in the early 1970s, if he was prepared to "set an example to other IRA men".

Mr McGuinness replied: "There is not much point in establishing an organisation like the independent commission for information retrieval, or the other organisations that we agreed to, if we do not encourage people to participate."

This would amount, he added, to "ensuring that families who have been victims of the conflict get some information and the resolution that they seek".

But there was no response when Mr Allister shouted: "Will you also tell the police what you did?"

The Fresh Start deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP last November did not include a mechanism for dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

But the issue of dealing with the past is being viewed as a top priority for the next Assembly following the elections in May.

However, Sinn Fein and the Government are embroiled in a stand-off over the disclosure of national security information - although an information retrieval process seems likely to form part of any eventual system.

At yesterday's question time in the Assembly Mr Allister asked the Deputy First Minister: "Will he, as an officer commanding in the IRA, lead by example and give information to the information retrieval commission, if it is to afford any hope to the many innocent victims of his IRA?"

Mr McGuinness replied: "On a number of occasions I have made it clear that Sinn Fein policy was to argue for the establishment of an independent, international truth commission.

"We did not achieve that, but what we have done is compromise on the structures and mechanisms that we agreed on prior to Christmas.

"I further make the point that there is not much point in establishing them if people are not prepared to go forward. If I am required to go forward on any point of relevance to me, I am absolutely willing to do so."

Earlier Sinn Fein junior minister Jennifer McCann told the DUP's Gregory Campbell it was now time to "build reconciliation" in the province. Mr Campbell asked If she could set out where the Building A United Community blueprint for a shared future will be in five years' time, at the end of the next Assembly mandate, when the programme "has had a chance to roll out". Ms McCann said: "I would like to think that that work will be taken forward in the next mandate.

"I think that it is very important work, particularly for young people. We need to show leadership and the way forward for people to be able to come together. We have built peace, but now we need to build reconciliation."

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