Ruth Dudley-Edwards on presidential election: ‘the choice of candidates is alarmingly poor’
Headline: Martin McGuinness is a convicted terrorist yet he could be elected Ireland’s new president.
Ruth Didley-Edwards continues: In September, Gay Byrne, Ireland’s most famous broadcaster, was asked what it was like to interview Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. “You get nowhere with them,” he said, “because they lie. They lie all the time.”
Byrne’s broadside was prompted by the news that McGuinness was taking a leave of absence from his job as Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister to try to become the head of state of the Republic of Ireland – a country where, as a non-resident, he does not even have the vote. And since announcing his candidacy, McGuinness has lied frequently and brazenly. Despite having allegedly controlled the Provisional IRA since 1970 – along with Adams – he insists that he left it in 1974 after serving time for transporting weaponry. An exasperated interviewer ambushed him with eight serious books that described his role at the IRA’s head and heart: all these writers had been “misinformed”, said McGuinness. In another presidential debate he denounced as “disgraceful” the presenter’s query as to how he could reconcile his Catholicism with “being involved in the murder of so many people”.
On both occasions, McGuinness was indeed genuinely shocked and outraged. For since the security forces defeated the Provisionals and drove them down the path to negotiations, his assumed mantle of peacemaker has caused most journalists to treat him deferentially, lest they be accused – as his few critics were – of being “anti-peace”. He expected the same soft ride on the presidential trail, but even McGuinness’s comparisons of himself with Nelson Mandela could not save him from awkward questions.
Most moving was the intervention of the bereaved, starting with the son of a private from the Irish Army, murdered in 1983 while trying to rescue a hostage from the IRA. Challenged on TV to name the killers, McGuinness fell back on the usual denials. Since then, other relatives of IRA victims have demanded answers, and McGuinness has had no convincing defence.
Even the young, with neither memory nor knowledge of the Troubles, grasp that a vote for McGuinness in Thursday’s election will be a retrospective legitimisation of the IRA’s ruthless terrorist campaign, not to mention a test of morality for the Irish Republic. It may also occur to them that President McGuinness could be challenged on overseas visits by bereaved relatives of victims of IRA murders. An invitation to a reciprocal state visit is also unlikely to come from the Queen: it is hard to imagine her Tory-led Government would ask her to entertain a man accused of being complicit in the murder of Lord Mountbatten in 1979, the butchering of delegates at the party conference in 1984 and the mortar attack on Downing Street in 1991.
- Martin McGuinness slumps in the polls as IRA past threatens bid for presidency (guardian.co.uk)
- McGuinness tries to justify IRA murder (politics.ie)
- McGuinness Still Clinging To Presidency Dream (news.sky.com)
- Martin Mc Guinness.. Terrorist to Statesman… (politics.ie)
- Was the audience member Emma Louise representative of young Irish People last night? (politics.ie)
- Martin McGuinness is a convicted terrorist yet he could be elected Ireland’s new president – Telegraph (wpvins.wordpress.com)