The Irish presidential race gets nastier every day since Martin McGuinness entered.

He has touched a raw nerve among the Little Irelanders,who want nothing more than to keep their little Republic to themselves and bitterly oppose any interference from the likes of McGuinness.

We are witnessing the last throw of the dice of the revisionists who would much rather a wall was built around Northern Ireland many years ago and then have averted their eyes to whatever needed to be done.

The latest extraordinary outburst was by Irish Times columnist Fintan O'Toole who proclaimed that Martin McGuinness if he became president of Ireland, could be arrested for war crimes if he traveled abroad because of his role with the IRA.

"Should we appoint a head of State who could be liable to arrest for war crimes under international law?," he asked in his column.

The blindingly obvious retort is that Nelson Mandela, founder of the ANC, an organization that invented 'necklacing' where a burning tire was placed around a victim's neck, could be arrested too under O'Toole's definition.

That did not stop Mandela getting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

O'Toole's comments also ignored the reality of the history of his own state.

Sean MacBride, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Nobel Peace Prize winner was a Chief of Staff of the IRA.

Two previous presidents of Ireland, Eamon De Valera and Sean T O'Ceallaigh were members of the IRA before going into politics.

McGuinness is following a long tradition in Irish politics of putting aside the gun and entering politics.

He is head and shoulders above those competing for the race against him in terms of accomplishment.

His two major rivals, Gay Mitchell of Fine Gael and Michael D. Higgins of the Labor Party are second tier candidates from within their own parties.

McGuinness has an amazing track record as a peacemaker, playing a huge role in ending the IRA campaign. forging a deal with Ian Paisley and later with Peter Robinson to share power in Northern Ireland.

It was world statesman stuff, ending an horrific conflict, and was acknowledged everywhere from the Oval Office to indeed, Mandela himself.

It seems like O'Toole and others like him want to forget the last twenty years of incredible progress in Ireland and focus only on McGuinness's IRA past.

Well then, O'Toole,who almost wept with joy when the Queen agreed to visit her former subjects, should apply the same criteria to her majesty and her family.

Prince Charles is Commander in Chief of the Parachute Regiment which killed innocent civilians in Derry in 1972.

Should he be retroactively banned from Ireland?

Of course not. The reality is that the Irish Republic was forged in war and violence,like the United States once was.

We can no more ignore that history than we can the impact The Troubles had on Ireland North and South.

Martin McGuinness was a key player in ending those troubles, arguably the single biggest achievement on the island of Ireland for the past 100 years or so.

O'Toole is revealing a little Ireland mentality that infects many of the great and the good on that island.

Alas, we will be seeing it manifest itself again and again in the coming weeks