July 31st, 2014

Martin McGuinness in 'Disappeared' storm

Northern IrelandBy Donal MacIntyre
Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness last night admitted he wasn’t behind bars when the IRA’s Derry brigade, of which he was OC, murdered a father-of-seven and “disappeared” his body in a bog.

The Deputy first minister told RTE’s Marian Finucane in an interview two weeks ago that he was in jail at the time Patrick Duffy was executed.

McGuinness claimed he was behind bars in Portlaoise when the 37-year-old was taken from his wedding anniversary party in Buncrana, and shot multiple times.

McGuinness told RTE that he was outraged upon learning of the atrocity and when he got out of jail he ordered the return of Duffy’s body and the end of the policy of disappearances by the Derry IRA.

But last night the veteran republican leader admitted he got his dates wrong in the interview and was at large at the time his Derry brigade murdered Mr Duffy.

In a statement issued to the Sunday World Mr McGuinness said: “In my interview with Marian Finucane last week, I clearly made a mistake in recollecting a timeline relating to events that happened over 40 years ago.

“The facts are that I served a six-month sentence in Portlaoise jail in 1973 and another in 1974 and during the Marian Finucane interview, I mistakenly recalled that Patrick Duffy was killed and his body secretly buried, while I was in prison.

“I now know that these events occurred in August 1973, in the brief period when I was ‘on the run’, between these two prison sentences.

“I think it is understandable that after a period of four decades my recollection of the exact detail of dates and times was not accurate. However, I reject any accusation that I ‘lied’ about this or about my opposition to the disappearance of Patrick Duffy’s remains. 

“The truth is that I voiced my strong opposition to Patrick Duffy’s disappearance and that very soon afterwards his body was returned.”

McGuinness was forced into the u-turn after a campaigner for the disappeared questioned his version of events.

Anthony McIntyre, who worked on the Boston Tapes project that led to the questioning of Gerry Adams over the murder of Jean McConville, has accused the Sinn Fein politician of lying on his online blog.

In his blog this week Anthony McIntyre wrote: “Patrick Duffy was disappeared, not in 1974, as McGuinness claimed but on the 9th August 1973 when McGuinness was free but on the run in the South. 

“He had served a six month sentence in Portlaoise jail earlier in 1973 after he and another member of the IRA were arrested after abandoning a red Cortina containing explosives and ammunition in the South on New Year’s Eve 1972 but he was released on the 16th May, 1973, three months or so before Patrick Duffy was killed and disappeared.

“He didn’t see the inside of a prison cell again until 11th February 1974 when he was sentenced to 12 months for membership of a proscribed organisation and three months concurrent for withholding information, again in Portlaoise jail. 

“That was six months or more after Patrick Duffy was killed. His claim to Marian Finucane that he was in jail at the time of Duffy’s disappearance is therefore simply unsupported by the verifiable facts. 

“Far from being inside a prison cell at the time of Patrick Duffy’s killing and disappearance, Martin McGuinness was actually on the run and living in his grandmother’s house in Illies outside Buncrana, Co. Donegal. 

“It was there that he received a note carried by the wife of one of the republican internees from Derry informing him that if the body wasn’t returned to the family then they would condemn Duffy’s disappearance.” 

McGuinness was interviewed two weeks ago by Finucane about his role in the cases of the disappeared and the north’s Deputy First Minister referred to the Duffy case without mentioning his name. 

Finucane asked McGuinness how the execution of informers developed into a campaign of disappearing the bodies.

McGuinness replied: “Well, only the people who took the decision can answer that question. I mean I remember, I remember, I remember being in Portlaoise prison, in 1974 I think it was, and a man from Derry had been shot and the story was that he had been disappeared and had been buried somewhere or wherever and I was absolutely furious about it.

“And it was actually when I got out of prison I met with local republicans and voiced my opposition and criticism of what happened and very soon afterwards that man’s body was returned”.

McGuinness, claimed that when he came out of Portlaoise he ensured the body was returned and that ‘for me there was no rationale, it was absolutely unforgivable’. 

Hardline republican Mickey Donnelly told the Sunday World this week: “I recruited Martin to the cause and I can tell you 

no-one else could have ordered Duffy’s execution.

“It is true that he stopped any further disappearances but only after he was told to by the internees in Long Kesh and the women in the community who thought it an unacceptable practice.”

Duffy was drinking with his wife in a pub in Buncrana when he left to get some fish and chips and was never seen alive again. 

His family and those around knew what had happened and his widow was hand delivered a typed note explaining his death by the IRA a week after he was taken out and shot. 

There was consternation in the community at the killing and in particular among the internees in Long Kesh and soon they had made their feelings known. 

It had come in 1973 about eight months after the scandal of Jean McConville and her abduction, murder and secret burial. 

“His widow knew what happened and knew he was dead. She was a good woman and a respected republican and people saw her having a wake without a body. It was wrong,the women said,” Donnelly said.

“There was only one man who could order Duffy’s execution. It was the OC in Derry. And that was McGuinness and he was in Buncrana on the run living with his Granny. He was the OC, he was on the spot.”

Donnelly was a member of the IRA in Derry at the outbreak of the Troubles in the north. And he was one of 13 men who were tortured by the British Army and the RUC when internment was introduced in 1971. 

The case, which went to the European Court of Human Rights, became known as the ‘Hooded Men Torture Case’.

The body was placed on the border and it was found in a brand new coffin in a Ford Cortina estate. The Inquest confirmed that the body was immersed in peat and water and found that it was dusted with lime to prevent the smell of decomposition. 

“As McGuinness told Finucane he ordered the end of the practice and there was nothing to say. That was because he was the OC. He was the boss. Who else could have ordered the killing, the burial and then the exhumation?” Donnelly said.