Martin McGuinness has said that whether he did or did not leave the IRA in 1974 is “not an issue for ordinary people”.
He said during his time as Education Minister and Deputy First Minister “you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people in the north who said to me, when did you leave the IRA?”
Speaking to host Ryan Tubridy last night on the Late, Late Show on RTE, the Sinn Fein candidate for the Irish presidency said he left the IRA to “build Sinn Fein as a political party”.
He said that during his time with the paramilitary group he had “never apologised” or said he was ashamed for his actions.
Regarding his role as president, Mr McGuinness said there now needed to be a “new order” and added he would use the power of the office to “embarrass” those people “who drove the country into the ground”.
The Londonderry-born politician has been under increasing pressure in the last week over his IRA past. Politicians and bomb survivors have attacked him for allegedly not coming clean over his involvement with atrocities during the course of the Troubles.
Last night he appeared alongside the six other candidates running for the Irish presidency during the first debate ahead of the election later this month.