Belfast Telegraph

Family and friends come to the defence of McGuinness after bomb video

Martin McGuinness’ son Fiachra and grandson Dualta at the unveiling of a portrait of his father in the Great Hall at Stormont last year
Martin McGuinness’ son Fiachra and grandson Dualta at the unveiling of a portrait of his father in the Great Hall at Stormont last year
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Support was shown yesterday for the late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the wake of Spotlight's revelations surrounding his role in the IRA.

Producers of Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History, due to be broadcast next week, unveiled never before seen footage from 1972 of the former Sinn Fein leader.

He was shown as part of an IRA bomb team putting the finishing touches to a lethal car bomb which later blew up in the centre of Londonderry.

The footage also shows Mr McGuinness handling a rifle and a revolver as children as young as eight peer through the open window.

His family were first to respond on social media.

His son Fiachra wrote: "Fought against injustices, fought for equality for everyone".

His wife Bernie said: "So proud of my husband as he spent his whole life to get peace in Ireland and did not have time for himself. RIP Martin, you were one in a million. Love you."

The Rev David Latimer, a Presbyterian minister and former Army chaplain, who had struck up an unlikely friendship with Mr McGuinness, said that unless his life was "taken in the round" the Spotlight programme "would be unhelpful".

"Martin McGuinness could be presented in a negative way due to his links with the IRA, which he openly acknowledged and never denied," he said.

"However, my privileged 10-year friendship with him allows me to view him in a different way.

"As an Irish republican he worked hard to stop violence and alter the course of history for the better in Northern Ireland.

"While many will take the view if you never make war, you never need to make peace, it has to be conceded, by friend and foe alike. Martin McGuinness made a truly remarkable journey from terrorist leader to peacemaker and helped deliver a safer living space for us all.

"Any revision, therefore, of his life journey and also that of his former enemy Ian Paisley, with whom he formed a deep friendship, must of necessity be taken in the round, otherwise the information transmitted by BBC Spotlight will be skewed and unhelpful."

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said that she was "proud of Martin McGuinness and his contribution to our struggle and society" calling him a "champion of equality, justice and peace".

Foyle MP Elisha McCallion said Mr McGuinness was an "amazing man" and "a hero", who "never denied his past".

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said that she was "proud of who he was and everything he represented".

However, the DUP's Gregory Campbell said the revelations might be a "jolt" to a younger generation.

"It does, for some people, provide a reality jolt as to what the previous Martin McGuinness was like," he said. "And for a younger generation they may well be surprised.

"But for an older generation, they should not be surprised, because some of us drew attention to the fact, repeatedly, that while there was in the latter years a political Martin McGuinness, in the former years there was Martin McGuinness the terrorist."

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