30/05/2006

McGuinness dismisses 'British Spy' claims

Sinn Fein's Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has today dismissed claims made in a Sunday tabloid, that he was a British spy.

Speaking at his first public appearance since the newspaper was published, Mr McGuinness said that the allegations were "a load of hooey" and "total nonsense," and added that he was "million per cent" certain that no evidence could be produced to support the allegations.

He said: "I am a thousand, I am a million percent confident no one will ever produce anything against me. I have worked all of my adult life as an Irish republican. Many of my comrades have been killed. Many IRA volunteers have been killed and I, of course, knew many of them as many of you well know.

"Under no circumstances will I ever be concerned about anybody throwing anything up at me which will strike against me. It is not even a remote possibility."

Sunday' s allegation was made by a former intelligence officer, who goes by the name of 'Martin Ingram' who previously exposed Freddie Scappaticci as the British agent known as 'Stakeknife.'

Although Mr Scappaticci denied the allegations, he later fled his west Belfast home.

Mr Ingram's claim, which was published in the Dublin-based Sunday World, also followed closely to the unmasking of the party's head of administration at Stormont, Denis Donaldson, as a British spy last December.

Mr Donaldson admitted to the claims and later went into hiding. He was shot dead in Glenties, Co Donegal, in April this year.

Mr McGuinness said that he believed that elements of the DUP were behind the claims and added that it was another attempt to destroy the restoration of devolution.

The Sinn Fein member said the similar claims had been made to the House of Commons in February, by DUP MP William McCrea, which were widely ignored.

Mr McGuinness said: "I have to say given all that we went through in 2004, it was quite clear then that there were elements within the DUP who were out to sabotage any prospect of an agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

"It's like deja vu all over again. Here we are at a very critical stage of the process and elements of the DUP are doing their damnedest to try and undermine the prospect of trying to get these institutions up.

"We in Sinn Fein are not going to be distracted by any of this."

East Derry DUP member Gregory Campbell, today said that it was not possible that his party were behind the allegations, adding that the DUP were opposed to the "illegal and criminal" activities of the IRA, and that it was irrelevant to his party whether or not senior members of Sinn Fein were agents.

(EF/SP)

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