Northern Ireland news

Bomb victim's brother shocked by Martin McGuinness car bomb film

Martin McGuinness was filmed walking behind the car as it was being loaded with a huge bomb in 1972.
Seamus McKinney

THE brother of a young girl murdered in the 1972 Claudy bombing says he's shocked by footage of former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness appearing to supervise the loading of a car bomb months before the atrocity.

Mark Eakin's eight-year-old sister Kathryn was one of nine people - including three children - killed when three car bombs exploded in the Co Derry village on the morning of July 31 1972.

While the IRA denied the bombing at the time, it is widely accepted the organisation was responsible.

The footage, to be screened as part of a special BBC Spotlight series on the history of the Troubles, shows Mr McGuinness walking behind a Volkswagen car in Derry city while four men load a bomb into the back in March 1972.

Shot in an alleyway in the Brandywell area, the bomb was detonated at lower Shipquay Street, causing huge damage to Derry's financial heart, along with the city's Guildhall.

A second film, also made in 1972, shows Mr McGuinness getting into a car at Southway in Derry's Creggan and taking out a handgun and examining the magazine while a rifle lies beside him.

The same film shows the former IRA leader showing children bullets as they crowd around the Ford Cortina.

Mr Eakin said he would like to know more about where the footage came from but felt angry that it had taken 47 years for what could have been important evidence to emerge.

“Surely the British government and intelligence services knew about it. It makes me wonder why did they not try to do anything about it,” he said.

The late Mr McGuinness's son, Fiachra, said yesterday he was proud of his father.

In an apparent response on Twitter to the new footage, he said: “Fought against injustices. Fought for equality for everyone.”

Sinn Féin Foyle MP Elisha McCallion also spoke out in defence of the former Sinn Féin politician, saying he never denied his past.

“He was an amazing man who fought his whole life for what he thought was right. He was my friend, a hero and an inspiration to thousands – myself included. He was a true leader and is sorely missed.”

The party's northern leader Michelle O'Neill also said Mr McGuinness was a “champion of equality, justice and peace” while John O'Dowd - who is challenging Ms O'Neill for the position of Sinn Féin vice president – said such “revelations and allegations” about the Troubles showed the north had a past.

“Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley proved we can have a future together despite the past,” he added.

In his native Bogside, the footage also does not appear to have changed views of Mr McGuinness.

Bogside man Frankie McMenamin said: "I knew Martin and this wouldn't change what I thought of him. He was a volunteer in 1972 and he never denied that.

“My views on Sinn Féin might have changed since then but I still respect the late Martin McGuinness. I've no doubt that the footage will be used by anti-republicans as propaganda but here in the Bogside there's still the greatest of respect for Martin."

Derry UUP councillor Darren Guy said unionists have always believed that Mr McGuinness through his leadership of the IRA was “very hands on” with most attacks in the city and Northern Ireland.

He added: “The IRA's bombing campaign destroyed many businesses and murders hundreds of innocent people across Northern Ireland and in Londonderry such as the Claudy bomb.”

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