Irish broadcasting legend Gay Byrne has launched an incredibly bitter attack on Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness – and branded him a liar.
Byrne, who considered running for President himself, has also told a television audience in Ireland that he hates Sinn Fein and the IRA.
The bizarre rant comes just days after Sinn Fein nominated McGuinness to run for the party in next month’s Presidential election.
McGuinness has taken leave of absence from his role as Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister but clearly won’t be getting Byrne’s first preference in the October poll.
Byrne told the TV3 station: “I’ve always been a hater of Sinn Fein and a hater of the Provisional IRA and everything they stood for - and they don’t like me either.
“I’ve interviewed Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams and they are so well disciplined and so well honed that no interviewer gets anywhere with them.
“You get nowhere with them because they lie. They lie all the time. They don’t mind lying and they’ve rehearsed their lies and they’ve been trained to lie, and that’s what they’re doing.”
Just weeks after he courted the major political parties for support in his own bid to run for the Aras,
Byrne has claimed he now has no interest whatsoever in the election to find Mary McAleese’s successor.
“Like so many other Irish people, I have lost interest in the presidential election” added Byrne.
“When I look at Mr McGuinness, I do not think statesman and politician but rather former IRA man and former gunman.
“Do the Irish people want this guy to be head of the armed forces and all those connotations?
“And under the Constitution there are many, many different things about which Sinn Fein, and he will wriggle, and weasel words as usual, because they’re very, very good at doing that.”
McGuinness has yet to reply to the Byrne interview but has again spoken of his IRA past, denying that he ever issued orders for anyone to be shot but confirming that he had discharged firearms.
Speaking in Cork, McGuinness said: “I didn’t say I never fired a gun - I was in the IRA. There were battles on the streets of Derry. I’ve never run away from that.
“No, I was never indirectly responsible for somebody being killed.
“But I’m not going to sensationalize in interviews with something that could then be used to the detriment of the peace process and to the detriment of my colleagues within government.
“I have made my peace with unionist leaders. And I do think some people in the media down here, some elements need to think about peacemaking and how they make their peace with me.”