Belfast Telegraph

Bishop refused to be drawn in to stand-off over Provo's funeral

By Ed Carty

Martin McGuinness threatened to hold a dead IRA man's body for a week amid tensions over paramilitary shows of strength at funerals.

He personally delivered the chilling message to Bishop Cahal Daly's secretary as a stand-off ensued over the burial of Larry Marley in Belfast in April 1987.

Marley, the mastermind of the 1983 Maze escape, was shot dead by the UVF at his Ardoyne home.

Amid a huge security operation, his funeral was delayed for three days and there were two failed attempts to bury him as a heavily armed police cordon stepped in each time to stop shots being fired.

At one point during the stand-off Marley's body had to be embalmed for second time while in the family home and the RUC threatened to seize the remains under public health laws.

Documents released from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs under the 30-year rule reveal Mr McGuinness issued the warning to the bishop's emissary Fr Hugh Starkey as he mediated between the Marley family and the RUC.

He reportedly told Cahal Daly's secretary: "We have the body and will keep it for a week, if necessary, until the Bishop speaks."

The papers claimed Mr McGuinness was smarting over comments made by Bishop of Derry Edward Daly about restricting IRA funerals amid paramilitary shows of strength.

Bishop Edward Daly had raised concerns that he had to say "enough is enough" and feared that if he did not take "strong and dramatic" action that some Provos might try to fire shots inside a church rather than outside.

A Foreign Affairs official said Mr McGuinness wanted to force Bishop Cahal Daly to make a public statement, "preferably a rebuke to the police and sympathy with the predicament of the family". He noted that the bishop "wisely refused to be drawn into this trap".

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