Many thanks to “Wicklow” for this tip that the famous Tom Mangold interview with a young Martin McGuinness is now on YouTube, the one which begins with the celebrated question: “As the officer commanding the Derry part of the IRA Provisionals….?
It was, allegedly, the threat that this interview would be used against him that persuaded him both to give evidence to the Saville Tribunal confirming his IRA membership at the time of Bloody Sunday and to refine the description of his IRA career so that he supposedly left the organisation back in 1974.
Up until then the report in the London Independent below was how he normally dealt with the matter, which more or less accorded with the traditional stance of IRA members when confronted by the membership question, i.e. a non-denial denial. Given his conviction in a Dublin court for IRA offences and his courtroom boast of his pride at being an IRA activist he could hardly do anything else. Unencumbered by such baggage, Gerry Adams is on the other hand able to issue flat denials of IRA associations.
The report, which was published in August 1993, appeared after a screening of the Cook Report on ITV which claimed that he was “the man in charge of the IRA”. McGuinness’ assertion that he was not the Chief of Staff was actually correct. Tom ‘Slab’ Murphy held that job. But his claim that he was not a member of the IRA was untrue. He was Northern Commander in 1993, or just had been, and since the IRA’s war was fought largely in the North one could argue that he was a very important member of the IRA at least, if not the man actually in charge. Here is the relevant part of The Independent report:
Mr McGuinness did not appear on the programme, but yesterday gave a series of interviews in which he denied its claims. He told a BBC interviewer that as a young man he ‘took up a particular stance which I’m not prepared to elaborate on in this programme’.
Asked if he had ever been a member of the IRA, he replied: ‘I’m not stating any opinion at all about what I was in the past. What I’m saying is I’m not a member of the IRA. I’m not chief of staff of the IRA and I’m not Britain’s number one terrorist.’
After his appearance at the Saville Tribunal, McGuinness’ narrative was polished so that while he was not denying IRA membership in the early 1970’s, he insisted he had left the organisation in 1974 or thereabouts. For reasons that defy understanding his half-lie is paraded by some in the media as evidence of his ethical superiority to Gerry Adams when in fact it is qualitatively no different and arguably is worse.
Anyway here is the YouTube video. The Mangold part is about half way through and starts at 4 minutes 30 seconds. Enjoy: