Belfast Telegraph

'Try McGuinness if evidence exists'

Northern Ireland's First Minister has said his Sinn Fein deputy should be tried before a court if enough evidence exists.

Martin McGuinness has denied allegations made by a former IRA prisoner linking him to the organisation in 1980, long after the former commander said he left the republican paramilitaries.

Democratic Unionist First Minister Peter Robinson told the Stormont assembly a guiding principle of his party was that everybody should be subject to the law and that included Mr McGuinness, who he said made no secret of his involvement with the IRA.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader said: "He, like any of the rest of us, should be brought before the courts and tried."

He added: "All of these matters have to be dealt with by the due process of law. If anybody has evidence against any member of this house they should bring it to the authorities, there are proper processes to go through."

Sinn Fein has said allegations by former IRA prisoner Peter Rogers are untrue.

He claimed that Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and Mr McGuinness were linked to IRA planning in 1980.

Mr Adams has always denied being in the organisation while Mr McGuinness said he left in the early 1970s.

As part of the peace process republican and loyalist prisoners were freed early and those convicted of troubles-related crimes after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement face a much shorter sentence.

The First Minister, who leads Stormont's devolved power-sharing administration with Mr McGuinness, has argued that there should be no exceptions for those wanted by the authorities.

It comes after around 200 republican on-the-runs received letters from the government clarifying that they were not wanted by the authorities but not ruling out future prosecutions.

While many victims of the 30-year conflict are still seeking justice, in many cases the passage of time and problems with evidence mean successful prosecutions are unlikely.

More than 3,000 murders remain unresolved.

An all-encompassing political deal on dealing with the past foundered at the end of last year with the breakdown of five-party talks.

Mr Robinson said: "I have consistently indicated that I believe that there are certain people who have been left alone because of their involvement with the political process, that the government did not want to be disturbed.

"No one should be less amenable because of their political involvement."

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