Sinn Fein Presidential election candidate Martin McGuinness has become embroiled in his first row – as he was forced into condemning the IRA killers of policeman Gerry McCabe.
The former IRA man initially refused to denounce the IRA men who killed officer McCabe during a bank robbery in 1996.
McGuinness had lobbied for the four men charged with the murder to qualify for early release from jail under the Good Friday Agreement.
Approached by reporters from the Irish Independent newspaper on Sunday, he initially declined to condemn the killing but later undertook a u-turn when he told the paper that he did ‘unreservedly condemn it’.
“I fully understand the grief of the detective sergeant’s family is something that cannot be underestimated,” said McGuinness.
“As President of Ireland, if I am honoured by the Irish people to be elected into that position, I, obviously, will have a huge responsibility to uphold all the institutions of the State.”
Officer McCabe and colleague Ben O’Sullivan were shot during a raid on the post office in Adare, Co Limerick. McCabe died but O'Sullivan recovered. The IRA denied any involvement but later acknowledged its members were involved.
Gerry McCabe’s widow refused to discuss McGuinness when approached by the Irish Independent.
“I’m not prepared to discuss that man at all. I have no comment to make,” she said.