ic Derry - Angry McGuinness Rages at Inquiry 'Double Standards'

Angry McGuinness Rages at Inquiry 'Double Standards' Nov 7 2003

AN ANGRY Martin McGuinness told the 'Journal' last night that, despite the British establishment destroying thousands of photos relating to Bloody Sunday, destroying weapons used on the day, refusing to identify informants and seeking Public Interest Immunity certificates 'right, left and centre' with apparent impunity, he found it incredible that he was the one being publicly accused of having something to hide.

Describing the situation as 'ludicrous', Mr. McGuinness also pointed out that former British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, had refused to answer many questions put to him by the Inquiry but no action whatsoever had been taken against him.

Accusing the Bloody Sunday Inquiry of 'double standards'the Mid Ulster M.P. also said that it was ridiculous if anyone expected him to name IRA volunteers during his evidence.

Speaking exclusively to the 'Journal' the Sinn Fein leader said: "Most people in Ireland would raise their eyebrows in surprise to hear that Lord Saville seriously expected me to identify IRA volunteers.

"I was angry when it was suggested to me that I was not helping the families by not naming IRA volunteers but as I thought about it I realised it was a ludicrous suggestion.

"I think the whole situation was epitomised by an incident today when I was in Belfast. An elderly man approached me, shook my hand and said 'So they are going to send you to prison' then he grunted in derision.

"This man's reaction is representative of the reaction of the Irish people who have always frowned upon people giving information to British bodies."

Claiming that double standards were clearly in operation Martin McGuinness said: "Suggestions were made that I had something to hide. But then I was shown redacted documents in which 85% of the information was obliterated and asked to comment without even being told when the statement was made.

"The British military establishment, the Ministry of Defence and the PSNI have all sought to keep information away from the Tribunal with Public Interest Immunity certificates and the like.

"Thousands of photographs have been destroyed and indeed even weapons destroyed and yet they can accuse me of having something to hide."

He added: "Then under questioning Edward Heath simply refused to answer some of the questions put to him but there was no action taken by the inquiry so of course there is no doubt that double standards are being applied."

Mr. McGuinness said he firmly believed his two days of testimony to the Saville Inquiry had assisted the families in their quest for justice.

He said: "I think before I gave evidence there was a faint hope among some on the British side that the legal representatives of the soldiers could have shown that the IRA opened fire on Bloody Sunday.

"After my two days of evidence it is clear to all that they were not able to show that simply because this did not happen.

"I made it clear that during the Bloody Sunday killings not a shot was fired by the IRA, not a petrol bomb was thrown and not a nail bomb was thrown.

"The people of Derry have always known that just as they have always known the truth behind Bloody Sunday, the people of the rest of the world need to know as well."

The Sinn Fein leader went on: "I went to this Inquiry to talk about Bloody Sunday but it soon became clear the legal teams for the soldiers wanted to talk about anything but Bloody Sunday."

On the Inquiry itself Mr. McGuinness said that it was put to him that he had called for the establishment of such a body.

However, rejecting this suggestion Martin McGuinness said: "I always called for the establishment of an independent international inquiry and while there may be members of the British Commonwealth on this body I do not see it as an International Inquiry.

"But despite that I am hopeful that there have been that many lies told by the British in their attempt to cover up what happened that this Inquiry will have no choice but to find the British government fully responsible for Bloody Sunday.

"It was suggested that there are two sides at this Inquiry the British side and the Irish side and that the two accounts were contested.

"But what is not contested is that 27 people were shot on Bloody Sunday with 14 losing their lives and 13 others badly wounded.

"What is clear to me, clear to the people of Derry and clear to the people of Ireland is that every single person shot that day died at the hands of British soldiers."

Dismissing the allegations made against him at the Inquiry as 'not being worth a hill of beans' Mr. McGuinness said he had tackled head on allegations contained in Liam Clark's book and also those made by Paddy Ward.

He said: "I made it clear and I believe it was apparent that Ward's allegations are absolutely worthless.

"As for the contents of Clark's book much of this is based on Ward's testimony although not all of it.

"It is clear that even Ward and Clark are in dispute over what was said and not said.

"I do accept that there are a small minority of people in Derry who may class themselves as republican who may have co-operated with Clark in order to damage me, damage Sinn Fein or damage the peace process.

"These people and others with their own agenda made allegations but when they were put to me I simply asked who said this and of course I was hit with pseudonym after pseudonym. It seems that these people are not prepared to stand up and make their allegations but are willing to allow themselves to be used to attack me."

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