MARTIN McGuinness and David Ervine had a face to face confrontation at the Good Friday Agreement talks.
A flavour of the detailed multi-lateral talks involving the British and Irish governments and the Stormont parties in the run-up to the agreement is disclosed in previously confidential files from 1998.
In a minute on the talks session dated January 13, 1998, Alan Smyth of the NIO’s Talks Planning Unit recorded a dramatic confrontation between the late Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin and the PUP leader, the late David Ervine.
According to the report, the talks chairman, Senator George Mitchell had just asked the participants to consider the proposals for ‘Heads of Agreement’ when Martin McGuinness stated that it would be of immeasurable help if the Ulster Unionist Party would recognise the inclusiveness of the process and engage with his party in bilaterals.
He said the lack of engagement was "creating a climate where sectarian murder was inevitable".
In response to McGuinness, Mr Ervine of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party "engaged him in a face to face confrontation".
Mr Ervine totally refuted the allegation that anybody in the room was responsible for a single death over the past weeks.
"Mr Ervine said that Mr McGuinness' observation was quite frankly an insult and he resented the use of threatening language," the minute read.
In response, Mr McGuinness said that nothing he had said could be interpreted as a threat in any way. Senator Mitchell then brought the discussion to a close.