Belfast Telegraph

Revelations on McGuinness no surprise, say two victims of IRA

Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Two women who lost loved ones at the hands of the IRA have said this week's revelations on Martin McGuinness and his role in the IRA "should come as no surprise to anyone".

They were speaking after previously unseen footage of the late Deputy First Minister showing children guns and at the preparation of a car bomb were unearthed.

Kathleen Gillespie's 42-year-old husband Patsy, a cook at Fort George Army base in Londonderry, was killed in October 1990.

He was tied to his work van, packed with explosives, and he was forced to drive to the border before the IRA detonated it, killing him and five soldiers.

The IRA held Mr Gillespie's wife Kathleen and family hostage until after the explosion.

Kathleen said that while she doesn't deny Mr McGuinness' peace-making in recent years, she will "never forget his past", as illustrated in the video clip.

"Is this anything new to us?" she asked. "We all knew that Martin McGuinness was an IRA man. So this shouldn't surprise anyone. This is what he did.

"I'm not denying that Martin McGuinness was a great peacemaker for one minute. But the things in his past can't be denied.

"We know he did great things before he died, but we also know that his past was full of bad things. I just say, let him rest, forget about him. He's gone and his secrets died with him.

"I have had to lay my questions to rest, because there is no one else who will answer those questions for me.

Ann Travers
Ann Travers
Mary Travers

"He hadn't the courage to face me when he was alive, so I'm not going to bother chasing after him when he's dead."

Ann Travers' 22-year-old sister Mary was shot dead and her father Tom seriously injured in an IRA gun attack as the family left Mass at St Brigid's Church in south Belfast in 1984.

She would have preferred the footage had been shown before Mr McGuinness' death in 2017, so he could have been held accountable.

"It's not really surprising to anyone who knows about this but to actually show video evidence for the first time," she said.

"Martin McGuinness is dead now. It would have been good to have heard his accountability when he was alive for what he actually did in light of this new video evidence. And also for him to be questioned about the involvement of children.

"In particular the point about giving young children bullets, especially whenever we think about Lyra McKee's murder - given the children that were there that night and the allegation that it was only a young adult, no more than a child himself, who actually murdered Lyra.

"The people who are influencing, manipulating and brainwashing the children of today are doing what Martin McGuinness did back then."

Ms Travers also criticised Mr McGuinness' lack of remorse, adding: "It is quite shocking that Martin McGuinness said, right up until he died, that he lived by the Green Book (IRA rules) and didn't regret anything.

"He was always going to remain loyal to the IRA who murdered so many family members in Northern Ireland. There is no getting away from it, he did become part of what became known as a peace process here.

"But the fact is that he was not one iota remorseful for what he did and what the IRA did."

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