Irish presidential candidate Martin McGuinness denied this week that he was a senior member of the IRA at the time of the 1987 Enniskillen bomb that killed eleven people.

The victims were killed when a bomb exploded during a Remembrance Sunday commemoration at the town's cenotaph, an event that McGuinness said he was 'ashamed' had happened.

'It was absolutely terrible and atrocious, McGuinness told Ireland national broadcast station RTE this week. 'No, I was not a senior member of the IRA then.'

McGuinness has previously admitted he was an IRA commander in Derry, but has for years insisted he left it in 1974.

During a televised debate this week in which he participated with the other six candidates, McGuiness said he realized the majority of Irish journalists did not believe him: 'I also know journalists if they had their opportunity, they would try to blame me for the 1916 rising and the War of Independence.'

Reaction from senior unionist politicians was swift. UUP leader Tom Elliott told UTV News that McGuinness's comments made it 'perfectly clear to people in Northern Ireland that Sinn Féin will say or do anything as circumstances dictate.'

'Martin McGuinness is asking the voters of the Republic of Ireland to believe that he felt ashamed when incidents like the Enniskillen bomb took place,' Elliott said. 'Maybe so, but is he ashamed enough to hand over the people responsible? Or is he trying to use the Enniskillen dead in a disgusting and shameful bid to further his electoral prospects in the Republic?'


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Also responding to his statement Democratic Unionist Party MLA for the Enniskillen area Arlene Foster challenged McGuinness to talk to the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) about the 1987 bomb in Enniskillen, for which no warning had been given.

'If Martin McGuinness really believes the murders that day were shameful, then he should have no problem speaking to the HET and answering any questions they have,' she said.

'The speculation for decades has been that the Enniskillen bomb was the work of provisional IRA from Londonderry where Martin McGuinness was the second in command of the PIRA.

'Rather than proposing an international truth commission to deal with these matters, it would be much more helpful to the healing process if McGuinness was to tell the truth about this incident to the HET.'

Martin McGuinness