Presidential candidate Martin McGuinness has said that the deaths of some civilians accidentally killed by the IRA could be regarded as “murders.”
It is the first time that a senior republican has used to term ‘murder’ to describe killings carried out by the IRA. Mr McGuinness made the remark at the weekend when he said he would not disagree with the definition used by some relatives of victims of IRA actions during the Troubles.
“The IRA were involved in quite a number of incidents which resulted in the accidental killing of innocent people and the term used by the relatives of those people who were killed was that they were murdered.
“I wouldn’t disagree with that. I’m not going to disagree with their analysis of what happened to their loved ones. In the circumstances where innocent people lost their lives, then it’s quite legitimate for the term murder to be used,” he said.
Speaking amid continuing media focus on his IRA past, the presidential hopeful said he does not believe it is the main concern for majority of voters. “I know this is a debate that has been raging, but the media are more interested than the ordinary man and woman in the street. When I went to the all-Ireland final – Kerry against Dublin – I couldn’t get away for an hour and a half with people coming up and wishing me all the best. Not one of them said, ‘Martin, when did you leave the IRA?’ But every one of them knew I was in the IRA at one stage.
“I don’t think the majority of people – to be quite honest – care. I think they see me as someone who was at one stage of my life in the IRA, but they see me in the round, as someone who was able to make peace.
“I think people see me as someone very much associated with political agreement and, probably more than anything else, being able to build a relationship with loyalist leaders Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson. That’s what they see as enormous,” he said.
Mr McGuinness said that is he is elected to Áras an Uachtárain, he will use the office of the presidency to promote national reconciliation. “It would be my intention as president to use the next 10 years from 2012 and the centenary of the formation of the Ulster Volunteers, the Home Rule campaign and the signing of the Ulster Covenant, and the anniversary of the 1916 Rising to transform this decade of commemorations into a decade of reconciliation,” he said. “The decade of reconciliation would celebrate the diverse nature of our society, celebrate the peace we now have and commemorate the events of 100 years ago which defined the direction of Ireland up to the present generation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr McGuinness topped an online poll held by bookmaker, Paddy Power, held after all seven candidates appeared on RTÉ’s Late Late Show on Friday night. Mr McGuinness secured 46.2 per cent support from the 485 participants.
A film crew from Dublin travelled to Derry yesterday to film Mr McGuinness for a documentary currently being made about his campaign.