“As The Officer Commanding The Derry Part Of The IRA…?” – That Tom Mangold Interview With Martin McGuinness Now On YouTube

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.

Wearing a moustache, Martin McGuinness in Garda custody prior to one of his court appearances in Dublin

Wearing a moustache, Martin McGuinness in Garda custody prior to one of his court appearances in Dublin

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:

37 responses to ““As The Officer Commanding The Derry Part Of The IRA…?” – That Tom Mangold Interview With Martin McGuinness Now On YouTube

  1. I don’t understand the comment about Adams’ and McGuinness’ relative “ethical superiority.” What sort of ethical standards are you applying? For them to deny something that in reality is not seriously in dispute (past IRA membership) in order to deflect politically motivated state prosecution doesn’t seem at all unethical to me. Or is this really a reference to the ethics of Republican militarism in general, or to particular acts of “terrorism” to which McGuinness or Adams have been linked?

    • the point, don, is that their membership is “seriously in dispute”, in that both men dispute it, adams that he was ever in the IRA and mcguinness that he was not in the IRA between 1974 and most of the next four decades. a primer on this subject is necessary, i think. prior to adams & mcguinness taking the line they did, the accepted way inside the IRA to answering the question: “Are you in the IRA?” was to avoid answering “yes” since that would make the respondent liable to a jail term but never to lie, never to deny membership, since that was to deny the purpose of your life, to deny your comrades and all the sacrifices they and others had made for the cause of which you were part. it was almost a sacred thing never to lie. so answers would range from the “mind your own business” to the sort of evasive answer mcguinness gave back in 1993, which was reported in the London Independent and which I carried in this blog post. What adams and mcguinness have done is to introduce the lie as an answer, in that they both deny membership for specified periods, adams for all his adult life and mcguinness post-1974. within the IRA it was always regarded as unethical to lie about your membership but no-one ever expected people to admit it either. as to which of the two men is more unethical by this yardstick is a matter of debate. I wrote that it was arguable that mcguinness had been the greater transgressor. whereas adams has told only one lie, that he was never a member, mcguinness has told two, that he left the ira in 1974 and that he was never a member after that. i hope that helps.

      • It would be quixotic of Adams or McGuinness to invite prosecution by declaring openly what everyone already knows – that they were/are Republican volunteers. The behavior expected of an IRA man during a very different historical period cannot be expected of politicians, for whom lying is a professional obligation. Historians and journalists have, of course, different standards. But pressing SF leaders for squeaky-clean transparency at a time when IRA men are still being arrested for actions from decades ago is asking the impossible of them.

      • either you didn’t read or didn’t understand what i wrote.

  2. Martin has great courage to stand up as he did and does. His family name was and is prominent in Derry Society. Even Today his name draws words of hate from the extreme left and right of Irish politics. From my point of view, the Irish are lucky to have people like Martin who are willing to give so much to their country.

    • i dare say the family of frank hegarty might quibble with you jack.

      • Surely this is all irrelevant now anyway. Pre- 1986/90 did the republicans have any other options other than the gun? I don’t believe they did. Evidence shows it was around that time they were first given options by the British government, but not until then. Once they had a peaceful route to take Adams and McGuinness jumped on it. Surely that says it all about the men? I’m a Protestant and it takes a lot to admit such things however both men could have stuck with the armalite but chose the ballot box.

      • that’s a different argument neil. this is about leaders who shouldn’t tell lies and when they do they should be called out. ignore one lie and soon you’ll be told many more. leaders should be held to standards. fail to demand that and there will be a cost.

  3. Maybe I didn’t link my argument properly. You call these guys leaders but as Don pointed out they are politicians and will never give a straight answer. However I can safely say that the people in Northern Ireland are not looking for a clear answer anymore. They have grown to see that these two individuals have saved the lives of thousands by turning their backs on the violent solution and encouraged many others to also do the same. If Adams and McGuinness came out with a clear admission of membership would we trust them any more than other politicians? I don’t think so because they are still politicians. Your journalist colleague Martin Dillon described the war in Northern Ireland as ‘dirty’, I don’t believe it is any less dirty than politics both here in NI and across the world. The Syria debacle being the most recent episode proving this.

    • i don’t think you understood what i was saying or perhaps you just misread in your hurry to make a comment in support of these two men. i am not urging adams or mcguinness to admit ira membership. i wouldn’t expect them to since theoretically that would be self-incrimination. but i think we do have a right and even a duty to point out when political leaders tell active lies, as both have about their IRA pasts, as opposed to not telling or admitting the truth; and there is a vital distinction. they didn’t have to tell lies; they could just have dodged the question or refused to answer it as generations of IRA members before them did. that was my other point, that they are the first IRA leaders to actively make denials like this and that begs questions about both motive and character. But the main point of my piece is this: if you give a political leader a bye ball to tell one lie, even for the best of reasons, then you are granting a license to them to to tell more lies. the next lies may be about their plans for your job, your home, your family. before you know it you won’t be able to tell when they are telling the truth or lying. that’s why it is important to call out political leaders on the first lie. now i am looking at all this from a viewpoint entirely different from their IRA colleagues. if i had been a member of the IRA and had taken orders from either man to kill or bomb and now i heard them deny any association with things they had told me to do, i think i would be very angry. in fact we know of at least two of their former colleagues who were so angry that they they went public with their anger. one was called brendan hughes, the other dolours price. knowing both quite well i have little doubt that had, in their case, gerry adams adopted the same non-denial denial as his predecessors had to the issue of IRA membership they would have been content and have kept quiet, instead they spoke out and adams’ record and place in history will be mired by associations with horrors like the disappeared as much or more than for ending the IRA’s war. conclusion? lying in the way he did was also very dumb.

      • I agree and I read your interviews with Brendan Hughes, twice in fact as they were astonishing accounts. Please don’t think I’m defending their actions, I’m just looking at it from Adams point of view. He wanted peace so badly he knew he had to play a very dangerous game and make sacrifices in order to get that peace. Adams was the only viable link to the republican movement, if he was removed to spend 10yrs in the Maze due to IRA membership, would the Good Friday Agreement have happened?

      • My point is that I don’t think the denial is purely about avoiding jail. I think the denial is about achieving the end result of peace and ultimately a united Ireland. Adams obviously doesn’t think these results are possible if he gets removed from the political process. I agree with you wholeheartedly that lying by a politician is wrong and all trust is lost. Adams has also made the decision that he will have to live with the guilt of being involved inthe Disappeared atrocities, sacrifices I believe he has chosen to make the achieve his goals.

      • the problem with your claim that adams’ denials were all to do with enhancing the peace process is that he started to make the denials in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s long before the peace process was even dreamed of and nearly two decades before the good friday agreement. as for doing it to avoid jail, he didn’t have to lie to avoid jail just not tell the truth. as i say there is a distinction and his predecessors were adept at it. all he had to was ask his dad how to do it!

  4. I accept your distinction and I think his denial has gained him a lot of enemies. I think the denials in the 70’s and 80’s were out of fear of prison, after that the aim was to keep the dialogue going with the British. On a side note, have you ever asked Adams about Hughes claims? The whole time reading Hughes accounts I often wondered the response. Is it just outright denial?

  5. OK. I get it. Ed doesn’t expect Adams and McGuinness to tell the truth, just that they should not directly deny IRA membership. This is a subtle distinction that might matter to old-school Republican militants, but not to anyone else. Ed’s writings have detailed the ways in which Adams and McGuinness exercised strategic management of the truth in pursuit of their turn away from armed struggle. They lied for years to the IRA rank and file, to fellow Republican leaders, to the British, Irish and American governments, and to the press and public, about just about everything they were doing. After that mountain of prevarication, it just seems a bit petty to criticize Gerry and Martin for molehill-sized lies about past IRA membership.

  6. I thought Neil was referring to meeting Ed!

  7. Under the rules of ‘the green book’ an IRA volunteer who becomes an agent of the enemy will meet the punishment of execution. A non- volunteer of the republican movement however, cannot be afforded the same punishment ie they can avoid execution.
    These denials could be more to do with internal politics within the movement? I.e no volunteer is permitted to surrender weapons to the enemy etc. On the other hand It could be argued that a non- volunteer could be allowed to hand the weapons over.
    No volunteer can participate in partitionist institutions; a non-volunteer however can.

  8. wolfe tone:

    Martin or Gerry could have written that part of the green book. They sure as hell changed a lot of things, Bit by Bit of course to suit their objective of Applying British Policing , Internment.

    What is the exact difference between a Volunteer and a Non Volunteer?.
    To me they are both Republican.

    • wolfe tone: can i refer you to my book ‘a secret history of the ira’ where you will find an explanation of how the IRA leadership was able to hand over weapons as part of the decommisioning process and it had nothing to do with people being ‘volunteers’ or ‘non-volunteers’. i assume you are trying to argue that by denying IRA membership adams and mcguinness were able to decommission weapons without penalty or sanction. leaving aside a) the fact that adams for one was denying IRA membership as far back as the late 1970’s long before decommissioning was dreamed of and b) many more people than they were involved in the decommissioning mechanics. the decommissioning process was in fact achieved by altering the IRA constitution to allow it to happen. the constitution at first gave the Army Council full power over the disposition of weaponry but in the McKevitt led rebellion the constitution was changed so that weaponry could not be given up a) without permission of a full Army Convention and b) only when the IRA’s political aims had been met, i.e. Irish unity. The subsequent Adams fightback was successful, the McKevitt group left the Provisionals and the constitution was changed back to allow the AC to do what it wished with weaponry and so in time decommissioning happened. absolutely nothing to do with adams’ and mcguinness’ membership or non-membership of the IRA. sorry.

      • When the shinners were selling their republican soul during the peace process, republicans[genuine] within the movement were demanding explanations. One of the responses they would get back was, they arent volunteers ie they dont have to adhere to the green book. It was bullshit of course but it was used as a way to keep dissenters quiet in the initial stages of the process. Believe it or not when some volunteers took the oath they genuinely believed it. Blind faith some would say. The illusion that was being created was that the shinners cannot speak for the IRA, ‘we are the ultimate authority’. So whatever they say in the media is not to be taken as what the IRA say. Again it was bullshit, but to the very faithful or gullible, within the ranks of the IRA, it was enough to quell any alarming notions they might have had. Alas, it would be too late, when they realised they had been sold a pup.
        I have read and heard how adams and co manipulated the army council etc and i am certainly not making excuses for them, far from it. I was basically pointing out a scenario that if ever these two were confronted by a staunch believer in the green book, they can technically argue they cant be charged with treason as they were not IRA volunteers. I think i read somewhere that mcguinness said he didnt get swore in to the provisionals the period before he ‘left in 1974’. So again technically he wasnt a volunteer and therefore he didnt have to adhere to the IRA regulations.

      • all i can say wolfe tone is that anyone who did’t know that both adams and mcguinness sat on the army coucil and that mcguinness was northern commander during most of the early peace process years and that both were therefore subject to IRA discipline and rules must have been living on another planet. perhaps it was called planet wishful thinking.

      • ‘many more people than they were involved in the decommissioning mechanics’.
        Undoubtedly these individuals were IRA volunteers and so as a result they have broken the green book rules and technically could be open to sanction. Adams and mcguinness would be in a better position than these people by their simple denials of membership. Again we know its crap but as i have said there are people who staunchly believe in that book.
        I think we can safely assume adams and co would be a lot cuter than some of the individuals that physically helped in the surrender of arms. At that time in the IRA, i would say there would have been a shortage of brains but no shortage of ego’s, and there is no better men to stroke a few ego’s than gerry and martin.
        I had the misfortune of witnessing a former O.C of IRA prisoners state that he ‘could drive a bus through the green book’. That revealed to me the deviousness of people in the republican movement and it also revealed how gullible one could be. Needless to say that character is still knocking about with gerry and the cabal.

    • There should be no difference between a volunteer and a non volunteer in the republican movement but just like he did with his coup in ’86, adams used the argument that a shinner could take seats in a partitionist institution and wouldnt break the rules of the green book as one wouldnt be a volunteer. Therefore he was creating a deliberate distinction between a volunteer and other republicans ie the IRA adhered to different rules and the shinners didnt. The IRA were the keepers of the faith and the shinners were not as staunch. This scenario allowed the shinners to gradually water down republicanism. It allowed agents of influence within S.F to say and do things that an a volunteer couldnt do.
      If we are going by green book rules a shinner could technically advocate destroying weapons without sanction but a volunteer couldnt as it would be forbidden and a court martial would ensue. Therefore in the logic of the ‘ultimate authority’ the volunteer can be accused of treason but the shinner cannot even though they advocated the same thing, as the shinner is not tied by the rules and regulations of the green book. Its all cynical but we are dealing with cynical people.
      Did mcguinness or adams take an oath? Or did they start up the IRA and make others take an oath? I dont know but if they didnt actually take an oath they can cynically argue, technically, under green book rules, they are not volunteers. It wouldnt wash with me but other people would accept it.
      If the other people on the army council followed along with adams and mcguinnesses actions then technically they have broken IRA rules by virtue of the fact that they were volunteers and the other two didnt as they were technically not volunteers as they didnt take the oath. In a funny kind of way the other army council members would be bigger traitors than adams and mcguinness!

      • but my point remains, wolfe tone, any republican who really believed that A & McG were not in the IRA had to be living in a cave in the woods….like those japanese soldiers discovered on pacific islands twenty years after hiroshima.

  9. Ed.
    And after Mc Kevitt left, with many others ,the AC was by then all Adamsites ,hand picked to suit Adams agenda to be still ruled by the British, sadly those ex POWs who toe the line with SF. This always sticks in my mind, I walked out of the 86 .

    Ard-Fheis 1986, part of gerry adams speech which made me think, wtf is going on here

    Some comrades may leave us but we all know there is not going to be a split. Everyone here knows the army is united. Everyone here knows the vast majority of this party is united. We have more to unite us than to divide us. Those who walk out leave this struggle. There is going to be no bloodshed, despite what sections of the media are saying or promoting over this issue. We have been down that road before. We are not going down it again.

    If we part, we part as friends in sadness and not in anger. The establishment is trying to create the imagery of a split in order to divide our base and to cause confusion.

    Many of us already run the daily risk of loyalist assassinations. We can live, or die, with that. If however a British undercover squad moved in, because of our public lifestyles, there is little we can do. And if some prominent republican, God forbid, was shot dead by such a squad in the wake of a walkout, could we blame the general public if they saw this as part of yet another republican feud?
    I read that as a threat, meaning, If you dissenters think you can stand up here with your Armalites, “Think again”, we have you well covered. How devious can a person be, From the Murph to the owner of the Turf.. Despised by so many, Yet they keep voting for SF, Its just a habit, until a proper alternative puts their act together and joins with others to be an effective alternative, by not taking a seat in that Carsonite house , “Stormont”

  10. Here’s a NOT WEE JOKE FOR EVERYONE, No name mentioned of course , Green Book and all that.
    One morning the B-Specials were shooting down into our street, This guy was shooting up at them, I got on my belly and crawled down my passage to our gate, I watched as he was Firing, I said, what the F**k are you shooting at, theres no aircraft overhead, He turned his head and looked at me, I had to laugh, I said to him, What the f**k have you got for lenses in your glasses, Fu**ing Milk Bottle Bottoms, as I stated, No names Mentioned.

    Touts handed over Green Books for the British to Re write for the Adamsites to take over the army council. Gerry never been in the RA , What a liar, The brits will one day get pissed of with them and start outing more top agents! , Seems he has Binos for lenses now!. I’m just an auld hand, so what would I know!.

  11. Pingback: Martin McGuinness: Ex Chief of Staff-or just Northern Commander? | Longkesh Inside Out

  12. Ed. I don’t know if you’ve ever see this interview given by McGuinness at the time of the OIRA ceasefire in May 1972….

    See tape 02:00 mins in.

    McGuinness: “…But as far as the Provisional IRA is concerned in Derry and in Dublin the fight will go on until the four demands are met…by the British Government.”

    Interviewer: “So you’re going to continue the campaign?”

    McGuinness: “We will certainly yes…”


  13. Lets pin the Tom Mangold / McGuinness interview on the wall beside the above BBC interview. Both are recorded evidence that Martin was a leading member of Derry PIRA and yet he was never interned.

    In fact the old enemy just didn’t seem to want to see Marty locked up for long. I went into jail in September 1976 and despite having medical evidence of having been badly beaten in Strand Road barracks I wasn’t allowed to recognise the court in order to fight this.

    Not our Dear leader Martin however. He, as I remember, recognised the court and walked free. He was charged with ‘Alleged membership of the IRA between August 8th 1973 and February 7th 1976.’ In fact this was the only time he was ever imprisoned in the North.

    Now I’m still looking at the interviews pinned to the wall as I continue…

    A few months back I met this person I know who spends a fair amount of time in the local library copying photos and articles from old Derry Journals and he passed me on a clipping of Martin’s 1976 release.

    And as I read it I was struck by the comments of the ‘Crown Prosecutor’ which, as I can’t put up the article here, I’ll quote…

    “A Crown Prosecutor told the court: “All legally admissible evidence sufficient to continue the prosecution has been considered AND I AM INSTRUCTED that it is insufficient to continue the prosecution. Accordingly, I AM INSTRUCTED TO WITHDRAW IT…”

    “….Mr McGuinness left the court, jumped into a waiting car and was driven to the Falls Road.
    He said his release had come as a complete surprise.
    He believed his arrest had been a “political move” to get him out of the way. He had been living openly in the Bogside for 18 months, he said and could have been put arrested at any time….”

    Firstly why only those dates and not from 1972 when they had the two interviews, BBC and Tom Mangold, as evidence of IRA membership?

    Secondly who instructed the Crown Prosecutor?

    It makes you wonder, as I noticed Garret Fitzgerald was wondering in 1983, according to recently released documents, when he put it Jim Prior that…

    “the evidence from the convicted terrorist [Raymond] Gilmore had succeeded in putting the IRA in Derry in disarray. It was inconceivable, however, that nothing in his evidence had failed to implicate Maginnis [sic]. It seemed, therefore, that it was a policy decision that he should not be arrested.”

    Jim Prior…”insisted there was not enough “sustainable” evidence to arrest Mr McGuinness.”

  14. Ed, click the ‘Launch in stand alone player’ button and you should be able to view it on whatever media viewer you have on your laptop/computer…

    Or try VLC player….

  15. With McGuinness having admitted his role as a ranking officer in pira up to 1974 it is a fact he was a member during some of the bloodiest years of the conflict. So has he ever been questioned by the het? If not why not? Or is he above the law, after all he gets above his station a lot of the time.

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