Dirty Killer Martin McGuinness to meet mass murderer Dame of Malta Elizabeth II
Martin McGuinness hints he may meet the Queen on diamond jubilee tour
Northern Ireland deputy first minister says Republicans must make new compromises
Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Friday 27 April 2012 15.10 BST
Former IRA chief of staff turned Northern Ireland deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, has given his broadest hint yet that he may meet the Queen.
Sinn Féin was the only major party not to take part in last year’s historic royal visit to the Irish Republic.
But speaking in Dublin on Friday at a major pan-European peace and security conference, Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator during the peace process said it was time for Irish republicans to “consider making new compromises”.
McGuinness said republicans were on a “journey of reconciliation and dialogue with unionists”.
He said: “That means being prepared to set aside our own assumptions about the nature of that dialogue, in order to better understand the fears and apprehensions of protestants and unionists. I believe we have to listen unconditionally to what they have to say.”
Although the McGuinness dodged direct questions about whether he would meet the Queen during her diamond jubilee celebrations, he said “big challenges lie ahead for all of us. Am I big enough to rise to those challenges? Absolutely, my track record shows that that is the case.”
Amid queries about the Queen coming to Northern Ireland during the jubilee year McGuinness said everyone had to recognise “how far we have come” . The Queen is expected to visit the province and her itinerary may include a trip to the Stormont parliament.
On reaching out further to unionists, the Sinn Féin MP said “we are up for a bit of brain storming with others” to help bolster reconciliation with unionists.
McGuinness also angrily rejected the claims of former army intelligence officer Ian Hurst that he had sanctioned the assassination of two top RUC officers in 1989 – the deaths are the subject of a current public inquiry in Dublin. Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Detective Inspector Bob Buchanan were murdered in an IRA ambush upon their return from a joint RUC-Garda Síochána security conference at Dundalk Garda station in the Irish Republic. The inquiry is investigating claims that rogue members of the Garda leaked information that helped the IRA target the two most senior RUC men killed in the Troubles.
Hurst who helped run a number of key informers within the IRA for army intelligence told the Smithwick tribunal this week that as head of the Provisional IRA’s Northern Command at the time Martin McGuinness gave the go-ahead for the operation to ambush and kill Breen and Buchanan.
While McGuinness admitted he was second in command of the IRA in Derry, in the early 1970s, he insisted on Friday that he had no knowledge whatsoever of the Breen-Buchanan murder plot.
McGuinness described Hurst’s testimony as a “yarn” and a “cock and bull story”, and described the ex-Force Research Unit officer as a “fantasist.” Hurst is the only witness to the Smithwick tribunal that has been denied the right to give his evidence in public.
“I wasn’t the only person to have repudiated what he had to say. His superior officer in British Intelligence who appeared at the tribunal named as Witness 82 and a Garda Superintendent said so.”
Earlier, addressing guests at Ireland’s first ever hosting of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe conference – held to discuss how Northern Ireland can be a model for other peace processes around the world – McGuinness said: “The war is over. The conflict is over. There will no going back.”