Martin McGuinness has refused to apologize for his IRA past – and criticised the ‘West Brit elements’ he believes are trying to derail his Presidential election campaign.
Now actively on the canvass trail, McGuinness has again claimed that he played a ‘key part’ in changing Irish history for the better and once more questioned the focus on his previous life within the paramilitary group.
“My faith is in the people. There are west Brit elements in and around Dublin - some of them are attached to some sections of the media, others are attached to political parties and were formerly involved in political parties,” said McGuinness as he attended the National Ploughing Championships in Athy.
“And I say to all of them: I go forward on my record, and my record as a peacemaker, I think, is unequalled anywhere.
“I have never hidden my IRA past and those interested in it are interested in it in order to derail my campaign.
“I’ve been very upfront and said that when I was a young person on the streets of Derry, the British Army came to my city. The RUC were in my city.
“Both the British Army and the RUC murdered people in my city before the IRA fired a shot and I was part of a young generation that decided to stand against them in the Bogside, in Free Derry, and we did stand against them and I make no apologies for that.
“But I do think that when people examine my life and my role in Irish politics they need to examine it in the round. If people want to examine the past, then let’s examine the past of everybody. I’m not going to get into recriminating about the past.”
McGuinness also refused to confirm or deny that he had ever shot anyone when asked that question by a reporter.
He replied: “Why should I stand here now and begin the process of saying, ‘here’s what I did in the IRA?’ What would it be tomorrow morning? It would be a headline, so let’s not be silly.”
The Sinn Fein candidate concluded: “The conflict is now in the past and I risked my life for the peace process.”