McGuinness: I offered to testify at Smithwick tribunal27/04/2012 - 12:10:49
The North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has offered to testify at a tribunal where it was claimed he was involved in the IRA sanctioning the murders of two RUC officers.
But the Sinn Féin MP and former presidential candidate insisted he would have nothing to contribute to the Smithwick inquiry in Dublin because he has no knowledge of the incident.
Mr McGuinness said: “I made it clear some time ago if there was a need for me to (attend), I would be prepared.
“But I thought I had absolutely no contribution to make whatsoever. It’s an incident I know absolutely nothing about.”
British intelligence officer Ian Hurst – also known as Martin Ingram – claimed at the inquiry this week to have inside knowledge linking the Sinn Féin chief to an order for the 1989 border ambush of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.
Mr McGuinness addressed the allegations publicly for the first time as he attended a conference in Dublin examining the experience of the peace process.
He said he was confident that Mr Ingram would be discredited and that Judge Peter Smithwick would refuse to accept the evidence.
It would not be the Deputy First Minister’s first appearance at a major tribunal after he gave evidence at the Saville Tribunal – an inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in which 14 civilians were shot dead by British soldiers in Derry.
He said a witness, whom he described as similar to an intelligence officer who testified at Smithwick, also tried to discredit him, with allegations that were not accepted.
“I understood (attending Saville) would leave me open to allegations, which have come thick and fast,” Mr McGuinness went on.
“I suppose that’s the price I’ve had to pay for going to the Saville Tribunal.”
Meanwhile, First Minister Peter Robinson insisted that anyone making allegations should bring evidence to support them.
He said it was unsurprising that accusations have been made against Mr McGuinness given his past links with the IRA.
“Let the courts decide if somebody has done wrong,” said Mr Robinson.
“I’m making no accusation. I think we all know the background of the people who are in Sinn Féin.”
He added: “If there is firm evidence that someone has been involved in illegal activity then that’s a different matter and should be put to the courts.”
Earlier this week, a spokesman for Mr McGuinness, a self-confessed Provisional IRA commander in Derry in the early 1970s, described Mr Ingram as a dubious character and claimed the tribunal had questioned other British intelligence evidence.
Mr Ingram was a member of the British Army’s covert Force Research Unit (FRU) in the North which itself has faced damning allegations of collusion, for gun-running with Loyalist paramilitaries and more than a dozen murders.
His evidence prompted renewed questions over when Mr McGuinness stood down as an IRA commander. During his failed bid for the Irish presidency last autumn he repeatedly insisted it was 1974.
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