A note written inside Long Kesh from one IRA Commander to another, dates Martin McGuinness’ departure from the Northern Command of the organisation to 1995, at a time when he was also Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator.
While it has been publicly stated before, Mr McGuinness, giving evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry , admitted his role in the Derry Unit of the IRA, but stated that he left the organisation in 1974. This is in contrast to the stance taken by the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, who, despite claims to the contrary, has always consistently denied being a member of the IRA.
The man, who once declared to the Special Criminal Court in Dublin ‘I am a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann and very, very proud of it’, now talks of peace rather than petrol bombs, and is the Deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive.
The journey from the Bogside to Stormont on the outskirts of Belfast has been a fascinating one. Often described as the more direct member of Sinn Fein, Martin Mc Guinness has seen off allegations of knowledge of the Claudy bombings and the murder of Frank Hegarty, to become statesmanlike, even running for the Irish Presidency in 2011.
In his documentary, Age of Terror, journalist Peter Taylor alleges that McGuinness was the head of the IRA’s Northern Command and had advance knowledge of the IRA’s 1987 Enniskillen bombing, which left 11 civilians dead.
Journalist Ed Moloney has also previously written about Mc Guinness role in Northern Command, claiming he left the position in the nineties, at a time when Sinn Féin were becoming heavily involved in peace talks with the British Government.
However, Brian Arthurs writing at his time of imprisonment to a senior republican in Tyrone on 18th August 1995, not only states that he has heard Mc Guinness (who he refers to as Mc G) has stepped down from his role – but that his replacement was the now deceased IRA man, Brian Keenan. In this grammatically challenged note, Arthurs, (who was named by The Sunday Times in 2005 as an Army Council Member – after his release from prison); writing to “Tommy”, also speaks of Sinn Féin’s link with the IRA, and the possibility of separation of the two in order to pursue the political agenda further.
COMRADE TOMMY I AGREE FULLY ABOUT YOUR THINKING ON THE
SO CALL PEACE PROCESS. AS THE LEADERSHIP ARE TELLING
PEOPLE THAT WANT TO HEAR THAT WE’ER GOING BACK TO WAR
‘THAT WE ARE’ AND A DIFFERENT STORY FOR THE POLITICAL
HEADS. THERE IS DEFINITELY GOING TO BE NO MOVEMENT THIS
YEAR WITH CLINTON COMING IN DESEMBER AND YES I HEARD
THAT THERE WAS GOING TO BE A CONVENTION BEFORE THE END
OFF THE YEAR AS THEIR THINKING OF CHANGING SOMETHING IN
THE CONSTATUTION!! I DON’T REALLY KNOW THAT IT IS YET
BUT IT MIGHT BE TAKEN OUR SEATS IN STORMENT? I ALSO
HEARD THAT Mc G!! HAD STOOD DOWN FROM O.C OF NOTHERN
COMMAND AND THAT BRIAN K! HAD TAKEN OVER FROM HIM. SO
THAT WOULD LEAVE ME OF THE THINKING THAT THE SINNERS
ARE GOING TO TRY AND SEPERATE THEMSELEVES FROM THE ARMY
IF THE WAR EVER STATED UP AGAIN. THE ONE BIG QUESTION
THAT I THINK THE LEADERSHIP WILL BE ASKED BY THE END OF
THE YEAR IS HAS’THAT BEEEN ACHIEVED B.A
Mc Guinness has repeatedly rejected allegations that he was the head of Northern Command, yet many people don’t give his denials credence. This contemporaneous note, written by a former leading provisional republican, from inside Long Kesh Prison, will surely cast doubt on his denials further.