Northern Ireland news

BBC documentary shows Martin McGuinness overseeing car bomb operation and handling gun

Martin McGuinness in the footage captured in Derry in 1972.

FOOTAGE of the late Martin McGuinness overseeing a bomb being loaded into the back of a car before being driven to Derry city centre and detonated has been uncovered by a BBC documentary team.

The images of the former IRA commander will feature on a BBC Spotlight special starting next week covering 50 years of conflict in Northern Ireland.

In the first of the seven part series, Spotlight on the Troubles - A Secret History, journalist Darragh MacIntyre looks at how the Troubles started and progressed from the loyalist murder of Peter Ward in Belfast in 1966.

It includes footage of the young Derry IRA leader handling guns and showing them to children. He is also filmed unmasked watching as a car bomb, which later exploded causing damage to the Guildhall, was loaded into the back of the vehicle.

The footage was filmed by an American documentary maker in 1972 but never aired.

The programme also gives new details of the bombing of Silent Valley in 1969 by loyalists who blamed it on the then dormant IRA in an attempt to bring down the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Terence O'Neill, who they felt was about to make concessions to nationalists.

Explosions at the reservoir in Kilkeel and at another pipe link crossing the Clady River in 1969 cut off much of the water supply to Belfast.

British troops were sent to guard water and electricity installations following the attacks.

Martin McGuinness in the footage captured in Derry in 1972 

While it was always known that members of the UVF loyal to firebrand preacher Ian Paisley were responsible for the attack, the documentary presents evidence which claims that he also funded the bombing.

Darragh MacIntyre said the team had "a lot of help" when looking for new material saying many much of that came from "journalists and historians who themselves have turned over so much of the ground that we planned to travel".

"I have no illusions, a huge distance has yet to be travelled before anyone gets anything like the full story of what happened here."

"That journey may never be finished," he added.

The documentary makers have said that, while the series wasn't intended to be the definitive story of the Troubles, it is a 'secret history' about many of the untold stories, investigating new aspect of the conflict and asking why it came to an end when it did.

The series, which has been several years in the making, looks at the personalities involved in the conflict and their change of role from protagonists of violence to peace makers.

Martin McGuinness in the footage captured in Derry in 1972 

It also examines the secret intelligence war against the IRA, the role of loyalists in conflict and the issue of collusion.

Sinn Féin declined to take part in the making of the documentary. A spokesperson for the BBC said: "We don’t have spokespersons appearing on behalf of any of the main parties however republicans appear and are featured throughout the series."

With remarkable access to senior military figures and former paramilitary figures from the time, it is the most in-depth look at the legacy of the Troubles to date made and possible thanks to additional funding awarded to BBC NI in 2017 to mark major historical anniversaries.

Spotlight reporter Jennifer O'Leary said that, while anniversaries "are often a time to reflect", in the context of the Troubles "they more often mark a day of brutal loss".

"I was always mindful that the challenge in uncovering new information is nowhere near the challenge faced by those who live with the pain of their injuries or trauma, or the interminable grief over loved ones lost.

"The series is a testament to the teamwork off all those involved, but primarily those who shared their stories with us."

Award-winning journalist Mandy McAuley, who made two of the seven part series, said it was the most demanding project she had ever worked on saying that the team had unearthed some "very unpalatable truths".

She said: "To those who agreed to speak openly on camera and to the the any sources who trusted us with their information and who stayed the course over two years I am truly grateful".

Her work looked at collusion, including the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane and loyalist murders in the Mid Ulster area carried out under the leadership of LVF commander Billy Wright.

Both Sinn Féin and the DUP were contacted for yesterday for comment but neither party responded.

:: Spotlight on the Troubles - A Secret History - BBC NI Tuesday September 10, 8.30pm.

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