A dissident republican threat to kill Martin McGuinness sparked serious alarm within Sinn Fein, a leaked cable reveals.
Gerry Adams told a senior US diplomat that he was “particularly concerned” about the incident involving the Deputy First Minister in May 2009.
The threat was issued weeks after Mr McGuinness had branded dissidents as “traitors” following the murder of two soldiers at Massereene barracks and the killing of PC Stephen Carroll.
While he publicly vowed not to be deterred by the threat, the document reveals the unease which it sparked behind the scenes.
According to a cable dated May 1, 2009, Mr Adams claimed attacks against Sinn Fein had increased, and were being taken “very seriously”.
The cable is classified “CONFIDENTIAL/NO FORN”, indicating it is not to be viewed by non-US citizens.
It is based on a meeting between Mr Adams and the consul general, Susan Elliott.
Reporting back to Washington, Ms Elliott noted the Sinn Fein president’s worries about increased dissident activity.
“He was particularly concerned about a recent threat against the life of DFM Martin McGuinness,” she noted.
During their discussion, Mr Adams also raised concerns about attacks on party offices and homes of senior members, including Mitchel McLaughlin.
He claimed some republicans were having difficulty accepting that the movement had “entered a new phase” after Sinn Fein denounced the Mass-ereene killings.
The cable adds: “Adams warned that the lack of political progress on issues such as Irish language and education reform was angering the republican grass roots and could lead to more support for dissident activity.”
Republican leaders were scathing in their criticism of dissidents following the killings. Mr McGuinness — a former IRA army council leader – branded them “traitors to the island of Ireland”.
Following the threat, he publicly vowed not to be deterred.
“What we have to do is continue to move forward,” Mr McGuinness publicly insisted.
“I am not going to be threatened. I am not going to be intimidated. I am not going to adjust my work in any way whatsoever.”
The April 2009 death threat against Martin McGuinness came weeks after he had accused dissident republican terrorists of being “traitors to the island of Ireland”.
In a symbolic move, Mr McGuinness stood alongside First Minister Peter Robinson and PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde following the Massereene barracks killings and murder of PC Stephen Carroll.
Following the threat, Mr McGuinness said he had spent his entire adult life engaged in the republican struggle and vowed not to be deterred.