The picture in question: Martin McGuinness holds a Luger pistol in Derry in 1972

A unionist political party leader is calling on Northern Ireland’s police to investigate the circumstances surrounding a recently published photo showing Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness holding a pistol in Derry in 1972.

Jim Allister, head of the Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), a splinter group of the Democratic Unionist Party, wrote a letter to the PSNI chief constable Sir Hugh Orde to look into the facts behind the photo of McGuinness, who he says was well-known to be a senior member of the IRA.

“Everyone – including those unionists who share power with Sinn Féin – knew that Martin McGuinness was a senior IRA member when that wicked terrorist organization was killing people on a daily basis,” Allister said.

“However, in light of this particularly stark new evidence of his involvement in that murderous criminal gang McGuinness should be investigated by the police.

“Nowhere else in the United Kingdom could one serve in ministerial office when a photograph such as this was in the public domain.

“ People were being slaughtered by the Provisionals around the time when this photo was taken. Was the gun which appears in this photo used in any of those attacks?” he added.

Allister says he also wrote to DUP First Minister Peter Robinson asking “why he continues to occupy joint office with an IRA commander,” and insisting that Northern Ireland unionists “break their ties with Sinn Féin/IRA.”

Sinn Féin Assembly member John O’Dowd told the Irish Times that there was “nothing new in recent comments from Jim Allister,” and that his “agenda is to take us back to a past where unionist domination and discrimination existed.”

The controversial picture of McGuinness was posted online by William Frazer of the Protestant victims of terrorism group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives (FAIR), and titled it: “Your Deputy First Minister as you’ve never seen him before.”

Inspired by the recent successful case brought against suspected Real IRA members allegedly involved in the Omagh bombing, Frazer plans to pursue a case against McGuinness.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams responded to Frazer’s plans, saying that people have the right to pursue legal cases if they wish, but added: “We have to differentiate between genuine efforts to try and bring closure for victims and what appears to be self-serving publicity efforts by Willie Frazer.”