Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is undeterred by recent death threats made against him by the Real IRA. Despite weekend media reports claiming the Derry-based politician had scrapped his annual holiday in Donegal, a Sinn Fein spokesperson told the Irish Voice newspaper on Tuesday that the reports were untrue.
“Martin will not be changing any plans that he already has,” the Sinn Fein spokesperson said. “He will not be intimidated by any threats. He always takes his holidays in Ireland and it will be no different this year, he will still holiday here.”
McGuinness, 58, usually takes his annual holiday in the remote Glenties area of Donegal, where he spends a week fishing each summer. According to security sources, the Sinn Fein politician increased his personal security in recent weeks, following a warning issued to him by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) of a threat to his life by members of the Real IRA.
Republican dissidents recently claimed responsibility for the murder of self-confessed double agent Denis Donaldson in Classey, Co. Donegal in April 2006, in an area near Glenties. Now, according to media reports, Northern Irish security services are concerned that they would find it difficult to fully secure McGuinness’ safety in the wild and open country of northwest Donegal.
McGuinness was warned of the threats following remarks he made about the Real IRA killers of two soldiers last month. However, his spokesperson said that it was untrue that he had cancelled his holiday in response to them. “He usually goes to Mayo, but this summer he’s going to be spending a lot more time in Donegal supporting election candidates. He usually holidays in Ireland but he doesn’t have one particular place he goes,” the spokesperson added.
In a statement McGuinness said, “During my life I have been under threat from groups such as the British state agencies and Loyalist murder gangs. It seems now this small unsupported group has joined those groups.
“Their threats will not deter me from doing my work as deputy first minister and as an MP. I have a job to do in terms of building the peace process and achieving the ultimate political objective of reunification. Their threats and activities will not succeed.”
On Sunday McGuinness’ wife Bernadette told the The Times of London that she and their children had been verbally abused on the streets of Derry by what she called “mouthpieces” in the street. Her husband added, “People are trying to hijack the Republican cause for their own purpose. Well they’re not going to succeed.
“We have a job to do. Yes, it is a difficult job, and yes, it may be a dangerous job, and yes, some of us may lose our lives in the future. But I am not going to be threatened, I am not going to be intimidated and I am certainly not going to live my life in fear.”
The death threats came after McGuinness accused Republican dissidents of being “traitors” after the murders of two off-duty soldiers and a policeman last month.
Speaking to the press in the aftermath of the attacks, McGuinness said that the killers had “betrayed the desires and political aspirations of all the people who live on this island.”