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UVF planned to kill former Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness

The UVF planned to kill former Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness in 1990.
Connla Young

The UVF planned to kill former Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness almost 30 years ago.

The paramilitary group intended to ambush the senior republican on the main Belfast to Derry Road.

Details contained in a newly published book ‘UVF: Behind the Mask’ reveal that the loyalist group intended to target McGuinnes, which it describes as “one of the Provisional IRA’s most senior commanders” at the Glenshane Pass.

The book has been written by Newtownabbey native and academic Aaron Edwards, a senior lecturer in defence and international affairs at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, who has been given access to key figures within the UVF.

According to the author the attack team intended to use “small arms and explosives” in their bid to kill the senior republican as he drove from Derry city in 1990 - a time when some believe republicans were already starting to inch towards ending their armed campaign.

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Martin McGuinness later went on to become pivotal figure in the peace process and served as deputy first minister at Stormont.

The author claims that several UVF sources say the organisation was “actively targeting” the top republican.

“For whatever reason the plan was never put into operation,” he wrote.

The book also reveals that former mayor of Belfast Tom Hartley was also in the sights of loyalist gunmen around the same time.

In the book a former UVF member from Shankill Road area reveals he was tasked with carrying out surveillance on the prominent republican.

“I had to walk past his house ten times in the morning.

“I hadn’t a gun. I was shitting myself.

“What the f**k was I meant to do if somebody came out.

“We were wee lads from the Shankill.”

During the Troubles several members of Sinn Féin and the IRA were killed by loyalists, particularly in the late 80s and early 90s.

Despite high levels of activity, attacks on senior Sinn Féin members were relatively rare, although there were some exceptions.

Former loyalist hitman Michael Stone has claimed in the past that he also tried to target Mr McGuinness while Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was lucky to escape with his life in 1984 after he was shot by the UDA.

Stone also tried to wipe out the leadership of the republican movement when he attacked the funeral of three IRA members in Milltown Cemetery in 1988.

‘UVF: Behind the Mask’ is published by Merrion Press.

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