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James Martin Pacelli McGuinness (Irish: Máirtín Mag Aonghusa; born 23 May 1950) is an Irish Sinn Féin politician and the current deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. McGuinness was also the Sinn Féin candidate for the Irish presidential election, 2011 He was born in Derry, Northern Ireland.
A former Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) leader, McGuinness is the MP for the Mid Ulster constituency. Like all Sinn Féin MPs, McGuinness practisesabstentionism in relation to the Westminster parliament. It was announced on 11 June 2012 that McGuinness is to resign from the House of Commons whilst continuing on as a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the same constituency.
Following the St Andrews Agreement and the Assembly election in 2007, he becamedeputy First Minister of Northern Ireland with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley becoming First Minister on 8 May 2007. On 5 June 2008 he was re-appointed as deputy First Minister to serve alongside Peter Robinson, who succeeded Paisley as First Minister on that date. McGuinness previously served as Minister of Education in the Northern Ireland Executive between 1999 and 2002.

McGuinness has acknowledged that he is a former IRA member but claims that he left the IRA in 1974. He originally joined the Official IRA, unaware of the split at the December 1969 Army Convention, switching to the Provisional IRA soon after. By the start of 1972, at the age of 21, he was second-in-command of the IRA in Derry, a position he held at the time of Bloody Sunday, when 14 civil rights protesters were killed by British paratroopers in the city.Provisional IRA activity

During the Saville Inquiry into the events of that day, Paddy Ward claimed to have been the leader of the Fianna, the youth wing of the IRA at the time of Bloody Sunday. He claimed that McGuinness and another anonymous IRA member gave him bomb parts that morning. He said that his organisation intended to attack city-centre premises in Derry on the same day. In response, McGuinness said the claims were "fantasy", while Gerry O'Hara, a Derry Sinn Féin councillor, stated that he and not Ward was the Fianna leader at the time.
The inquiry concluded that, although McGuinness was "engaged in paramilitary activity" at the time of Bloody Sunday and had probably been armed with a Thompson submachine gun, there was insufficient evidence to make any finding other than they were "sure that he did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire".
McGuinness negotiated alongside Gerry Adams with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Willie Whitelaw, in 1972.
In 1973, he was convicted by the Republic of Ireland's Special Criminal Court, after being caught with a car containing 250 lb (113 kg) of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition. He refused to recognise the court, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment. In court, he declared his membership of the Provisional Irish Republican Army without equivocation: 'We have fought against the killing of our people... I am a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann and very, very proud of it'.
After his release, and another conviction in the Republic for IRA membership, he became increasingly prominent in Sinn Féin, the political wing of the republican movement. He was in indirect contact with British intelligence during the hunger strikes in the early 1980s, and again in the early 1990s. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont in 1982, representingLondonderry. He was the second candidate elected after John Hume. As with all elected members of Sinn Féin and the SDLP, he did not take up his seat. On 9 December 1982, McGuinness, Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison were banned from entering Great Britainunder the Prevention of Terrorism Act by William Whitelaw, by then Home Secretary .
In August 1993, he was the subject of a two part special by The Cook Report, a Central TV investigative documentary series presented by Roger Cook. It accused him of continuing involvement in IRA activity, of attending an interrogation and of encouraging Frank Hegarty, an informer, to return to Derry from a safe house in England. Hegarty's mother Rose appeared on the programme to tell of telephone calls to McGuinness and of Hegarty's subsequent murder. McGuinness denied her account and denounced the programme saying "I have never been in the IRA. I don't have any sway over the IRA".
In 2005, Michael McDowell, the Irish Tánaiste, claimed McGuinness, along with Gerry Adams and Martin Ferris, were members of the seven-man IRA Army Council. McGuinness denied the claims, saying he was no longer an IRA member. Experienced "Troubles" journalist Peter Taylor presented further apparent evidence of McGuinness's role in the IRA in his documentary Age of Terror, shown in April 2008. In his documentary, Taylor alleges that McGuinness was the head of the IRA's Northern Command and had advance knowledge of the IRA's 1987 Enniskillen bombing, which left 11 civilians dead.

Chief negotiator and Minister of Education

He became Sinn Féin's chief negotiator in the time leading to the Good Friday Agreement. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum in 1996 representing Foyle. Having contested Foyle unsuccessfully at the 1983, 1987 and 1992 Westminster elections, he became MP for Mid Ulster in 1997 and after the Agreement was concluded, was returned as a member of the Assembly for the same constituency, and nominated by his party for a ministerial position in the power-sharing executive, where he became Minister of Education. One of his controversial acts as Minister of Education was his decision to scrap the 11-plus exam, which he himself had failed as a schoolchild. He was re-elected to the Westminster Parliament in 2001, 2005 and 2010.
In May 2003, transcripts of telephone calls between McGuinness and British officials including Mo Mowlam, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's Chief of Staff, were published in a biography of McGuinness entitled From Guns to Government. The tapes had been made by MI5 and the authors of the book were arrested under the Official Secrets Act. The conversations showed an easy and friendly relationship between McGuinness and Powell. He joked with Powell about Unionist MPs while Mowlam referred to him as "babe" and discussed her difficulties with Blair. In another transcript, he praised Bill Clinton to Gerry Adams.

St Andrews Agreement & Role as Deputy First Minister

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United States President Barack Obama meets with First Minister Peter Robinson and McGuinness in March 2009.

In the weeks following the St Andrews Agreement between Paisley and Adams, the four parties the DUP, Sinn Féin, the UUP and the SDLP indicated their choice of ministries in the Executive and nominated members to fill them. The Assembly met on 8 May 2007 and Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were nominated as First Minister and Deputy First Minister. On 12 May the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle agreed to take up three places on the Policing Board, and nominated three MLAs to take them.
On 8 December 2007, while visiting President Bush in the White House with the Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness, said to the press "Up until the 26 March this year, Ian Paisley and I never had a conversation about anything not even about the weather and now we have worked very closely together over the last seven months and there's been no angry words between us. ... This shows we are set for a new course."

2011 presidential campaign

Main article: Irish presidential election, 2011
On 16 September 2011 McGuinness was announced as the Sinn Féin candidate in the 2011 Irish presidential election.
In the election held on October 27 McGuinness placed third in the first preference vote, behind Michael D Higgins and Seán Gallagher.
McGuinness was the only candidate who was ineligible to vote in the election as, although he is an Irish citizen, he is not ordinarily resident in Ireland.
Following his defeat, McGuinness formally returned to the role of deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland on October 31.

Resignation from the House of Commons

It was announced on 11 June 2012 that McGuinness is to resign from the House of Commons . The resignation will be undertaken through the process of resignation from the House of Commons. By tradition, resignation from the House of Commons is impossible. An MP who wishes to resign has first to accept an office of profit under the Crown, thus vacating his seat. Members who wish to retire ask to be appointed to the office of steward or bailiff of Her Majesty's Chiltern Hundreds of Stoke, Desborough and Burnham, or steward of the Manor of Northstead. While these ancient posts have no responsibilities attached to them, they fulfill the requirements of the law and disqualify Members from sitting, enabling their retirement.

Personal life

One of his middle names, Pacelli, is after Pope Pius XII.
He married Bernadette Canning in 1974. They have four children, two girls and two boys McGuinness is a fan of the Derry Gaelic football and hurling teams and played both sports when he was younger. He grew up just 50 metres from Celtic Park, the home of Derry GAA. His brother Tom played Gaelic football for Derry and is regarded as one of the county's best ever players. Among his honours are three Ulster Senior Football Championship medals, as well as Ulster Under 21 and All-Ireland Under 21 Championshipmedals. McGuinness also has an enduring interest in Cricket - sometimes extending his support to the England cricket team, as well as that of Ireland, though he didn't have the opportunity to play the game himself.
McGuiness is a member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, meaning that he does not drink alcohol.

Queen and Martin McGuinness to meet 'in private'

Saturday, 23 June 2012[Image: N_Ireland_News_2-1__692588t.jpg]
Co-operation Ireland's chief executive Peter Sheridan said the meeting between Martin McGuinness and the Queen is an 'important step forward'

The historic handshake planned between the Queen and Martin McGuinness is to take place behind closed doors, it emerged last night.
The Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister will attend a cross-border event in Belfast on Wednesday, which Irish President Michael D Higgins will also attend.
But the initial meeting and handshake between the Queen and the senior Sinn Fein representative is expected to take place in a private room at the beginning of the engagement, sources close to the planning have said.
The meeting is nevertheless being seen as a major milestone in efforts to normalise relations between nationalists and unionists.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams confirmed that his party's ruling executive had backed the planned meeting.
But he added: "This will understandably cause difficulties for some republicans and nationalists, especially for those folks who suffered at the hands of British forces."
The leading peace charity Co-operation Ireland is to host the event for the Queen and Mr Higgins to celebrate the arts and culture across the island at Belfast's Lyric Theatre on Wednesday.
Sinn Fein's ruling council, the ard comhairle, met for four hours in Dublin today before announcing its decision to accept the invitation made to Mr McGuinness.
Mr Adams said Sinn Fein wanted to see a new republic in which the traditions of orange and green could be brought together in a cordial union.
The ard comhairle decision was not unanimous but was a clear majority, the party confirmed.
There has been speculation since the Queen's momentous visit to the Republic of Ireland in May last year that a senior Sinn Fein figure would meet her during the two-day trip planned for Northern Ireland next week to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
Mr McGuinness, a former IRA commander, was always the candidate to shake the Queen's hand but delicate talks have been going on for months to arrange a suitable venue and occasion.
Sinn Fein has stressed the meeting is not a celebration of the Jubilee.
Mr Adams said of the party's decision: "We don't have to do it. We're doing it because it's the right thing to do, despite the fact that it will cause difficulties for our own folk.
"But it's good for Ireland. It's good for this process we're trying to develop. It's the right time and the right reason.
"After Martin McGuinness completes this engagement he will be as true, as staunch, as active a republican as he ever was."
It is understood the meeting will take place without cameras being present, before the Queen, Mr McGuinness and other key guests including Mr Higgins and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson join the main event, which will be covered by the media.
Mr Adams said his party held 40 meetings with republican activists across Ireland yesterday to discuss the issue ahead of today's meeting of the Sinn Fein leadership.
It had been believed that plans for a 20,000-strong Diamond Jubilee celebration, to be held at Stormont during the Queen's trip, made it more difficult for republicans to hold the meeting there.
But an engagement involving not only the Queen but also Ireland's head of state provides a more acceptable backdrop for Sinn Fein.
The handshake will be viewed as another in a long list of dramatic advances in Anglo-Irish relations.
One of the most significant was the Queen laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin, which honours republicans who died fighting British rule, followed by a tour of the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), before she spoke Irish at a banquet in her honour.
Since those events Mr McGuinness has spoken several times of how he was struck by the Queen's gestures.
Mr Robinson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, has said republicans should pay due respect to the Queen as a recognition of her importance to many in Northern Ireland.
The First Minister was among those who said such a meeting would also be difficult for the Queen, given that her own family was hurt by republican violence when the IRA killed Lord Mountbatten in a 1979 bombing in Co Sligo.
Co-operation Ireland, established in 1979, creates opportunities for groups from the two main religious communities in Northern Ireland and from both sides of the border to learn about each other's traditions and cultural backgrounds in order to help build a society based on tolerance and acceptance of cultural difference.
Irish premier, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was in Scotland at the British-Irish Council summit today, which was also attended by Mr McGuinness, said he had been confident the handshake would be agreed to.
Mr Kenny said: "The Queen herself, when she spoke in Dublin Castle, said in hindsight if we could do things again there are some things that we might do differently, and some things that we wouldn't do at all.
"We're in a very different space in 2012. We're in a modern era."
Mr Kenny said a refusal to shake hands would have been a very retrograde step.
Mr Adams called for support for the royal meeting and handshake from republicans and nationalists and said it was a "symbolic and significant step".
He urged people opposed to the move to protest peacefully.
Former Cabinet minister Lord Tebbit, whose wife was paralysed in the 1984 Brighton bombing, said: "Personally, I think it is hopeful that Mr McGuinness has decided, presumably on behalf of Sinn Fein, that he should accept the sovereignty of the Queen over Northern Ireland.
"I hope it will be followed by some further moves to express repentance for violence that was caused by Sinn Fein-IRA."
The Tory peer went on: "We know the views of the people of Northern Ireland. They wish to remain within the UK, so hopefully Martin McGuinness now realises that what went on was violence without a point."

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Is Martin McGuinnes a British Agent? The new revelations considered.

[Image: star.gif] national | crime and justice | opinion/analysis [Image: date.gif] Monday February 06, 2006 08:27[Image: person.gif] by Brian [Image: report.gif]
A look at the recent statements by the FRU source known as Martin Ingram who states that Martin McGuinness is a paid agent of the British government.
As I think everybody knows there has been an upsurge in revelations about British intelligence agency infiltration of (some would say control over) the IRA in recent weeks. This has culminated in a definitive statement from a former British army intelligence officer and handler that Martin McGuinness, widely considered the most powerful IRA figure of the last two decades, is a paid agent of the British government. It has come from a former warrant officer in the Force Research Unit who uses the pseudonym Martin Ingram. His real name is well known, he is personally also known and friendly with many Irish journalists so there is no real doubt about his identity or the fact that he really did serve in the British Army's Intelligence Corps in various places in Northern Ireland in the mid-80s. (The Force Research Unit is sort of a special Irish unit of that Intelligence Corps). In particular he served in Derry and was the handler for Frank Hegarty who infiltrated the Provisional IRA on his behalf during c.1984 and its the story of what happened to Hegarty that seems to confirm for Ingram that McGuinness is in fact a British agent. So basically he was told by his superiors to use Hegarty to get close to McGuinness and that is what happened the thing being that Hegarty rose suspiciously fast in the local IRA hierarchy even though he wasn't all that well known to McGuinness. In a space of only a few months he knew enough to pinpoint a huge arms dump held locally for example. So it seems that Ingram feels that Hegarty rose through the ranks so fast because he was an informer, in other words that McGuinness knew that and was systematically assisting the FRU in its task of infiltrating all ranks of the IRA. Hegarty after a while fled to the UK and was watched by FRU minders until he received word from McGuinness inviting him back to Ireland where he was ultimately to meet his death. The crucial point in this episode is that Ingram says that it was the commander of the FRU who "thought Frank to be a security concern and his depression was a potential problem for the FRU." So according to Ingram no great pains were expended in delaying him in the UK and his return and subsequent death seem to have been designed to solve that problem from the FRU's point of view.

So sure for most people its a conspiracy theory too far to say that McGuinness is a British government agent but the fact is that we now have a person in the know in the British intelligence community in Derry who is saying just that and his opinion must carry some weight. It is not the only reference that points this way and I thought I would point out a few more references for people to mull over before they dismiss this theory out of hand:

1) This is an account of a conversation between the former O/C of the Southern Command of the IRA (while being simultaneously a garda agent) Sean O'Callaghan, and Brendan Dowd, discussing the opinions of the senior IRA figure Brian Keenan while they were both held in Full Sutton prison in England:
" 'Does he [Brian Keenan] really think he was set up?' I asked Dowd. Dowd just smiled and said 'He thinks it was McGuinness.' 'He must be off his head,' I said, while at the same time being perfectly aware how Keenan came to such a conclusion. Keenan had been arrested at a security force roadblock just outside Banbridge in County Down, in March 1979. McGuinness was arrested at the same roadblock, but in a different car. Keenan maintained to Dowd that shortly before his arrest McGuinness, who was driving a car that may well have been known to the security forces, waved him down to tell him something that he, Keenan, regarded as unimportant. Keenan was adamant that the car he was in was clean and unknown to the security forces. He thought it possible that McGuinness, spotting that he himself was under surveillance, decided to take the opportunity to get rid of Keenan, who he knew was wanted on specific charges relating to the British bombing campaign. Waving down Keenan's car, he maintained, could have been McGuinness's way of pointing out to the police that there was another 'interesting' car in the area. Even Keenan, paranoid and untrusting as he was, couldn't really believe that McGuinness was an informer.....[goes on to say that the Marxist Keenan was against the Catholic Adams and McGuinness]...
Whether or not there is any substance in Keenan's belief that he was set up by a member of the Army Council, or in Dowd's allegation that Keenan blamed McGuinness in particular, it is certainly true that following Keenan's imprisonment Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness assumed a degree of control over the republican movement that they could not have dreamed of while Keenan was around.....
If Keenan really believed that he was set up by McGuinness, he has done nothing about it since he was released from prison four years ago. Was he simply speculating, thinking out loud ? But if that was the case why did he send such a definitive message out of the jail: 'I was set up by a member of the Army Council. I know who it is. Wait until I get out.' "(1)

2) I believe it was Andrew Hunter the then conservative MP who stated once in the Sunday Times that he had heard that one of the British army units stationed in Derry in the 70s was given strict instructions to leave McGuinness alone.

3) One book that some claim has spurred a lot of the new thinking on British government control over the IRA is 'The Secret History of the IRA' by the experienced local journalist Ed Moloney. Here are a few quotes from a review of this book in the Telegraph (Oct 12 2002 p.3) by Toby Harnden:
"Is Martin McGuinness a high-level informer who has been working for the British for the past two decades? .....[This is one of] the tantalising questions raised by this important and compelling work, which slices through many of the convenient untruths that have been peddled by the political elites of Belfast, Dublin and London.
Moloney also offers remarkable insights into such men as Martin McGuinness, who he says held nearly every senior IRA rank but did much to undermine the organisation.
Although the book does not name the high-level informer who was apparently working for the British, there is a strong implication that McGuinness is the most likely "tout" . As with a good mafia thriller, the reader is soon guessing which of the protagonists is wearing a wire for the Feds. If Moloney knows, he is not saying. But when he writes that "no one ever suggested Martin McGuinness or any other senior figures at his level were passing on information to the British", one suspects that this was not meant to be taken at face value."

Yet if this was true I respectfully submit that the accepted interpretation of the troubles has to go out the window. Basically its obvious then that the Republican paramilitary groups were just as much in the pocket of the British intelligence agencies as the loyalist groups and yet if that is the case then clearly those agencies, and indeed the occupying British army, had to be there for some other reason than the suppression of terrorism because the 'terrorism' was all along their carefully nurtured baby. My tuppence worth on that question is that the troubles were an Irish version of the Italian 'strategy of tension'. This strategy was so called by the Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti and describes the reason why the Italian intelligence agencies, in alliance with those of the US and the UK, sponsored terrorism in Italy in the 70s and 80s. Basically they wanted to scare people into supporting those agencies and accompanying draconian security legislation etc. Again the story unfolded for the Italian public in much the same way that it has for us here in that first people began to realise that the right wing groups were really just the security agencies out of uniform and then they were later to find out that the left wing Red Brigades, ostensibly the latter's enemy, were also run by the security forces in alliance with the CIA and the P-2 masonic lodge.(2)

But I think furthermore that this revelation, if it is true, that McGuinness is a British agent must in fact also make people think about the whole structure of Irish civil society and not just the paramilitaries. What I mean is that the same intelligence agencies from the UK and the US (and working no doubt through domestic agencies as well, North and South) obviously also attempt to control political parties, media outlets, trade unions, police forces and judiciary etc and the question is have they had as much luck controlling those entities as they have the paramilitaries? Bear in mind they bring a lot of power and money to the table to do this. Ingram says that in the mid 80s he knew of one offer of £50,000 cash being offered to an IRA figure as an initial sweetener to persuade him to inform. If Tom Gilmartin's revelations about some Irish politicians are anything to go by then you have to wonder what you could buy with that kind of money in those circles. Of course those agencies also have huge information sources that they can use to blackmail people with as well and in fact Ingram says that Denis Donaldson was blackmailed when the RUC Special Branch found out that he had been caught stealing on a covert Marks and Spencers security camera. (3) Just look at the recent leadership contest in the Lib-Dem party in Britain and imagine how you could manipulate that race if you had access to the sort of information that modern agencies have access to by electronic and other means.(4)
Ingram provides a glimpse of that kind of infiltration of civil society when he talks about RUC Special Branch running senior agents within the Official and Democratic Unionist Parties where "they could and would be able and willing to exert influence." He says likewise that as regards the UK intel agencies' relationship with Irish government ministers and the gardai that "the level of penetration was high including Gardai commissioners." So maybe its sensible for Irish people to ask some hard questions sometimes about the various elements of Irish civil society and without being paranoid maybe we should be cautious if there is too cozy a consensus between this 'establishment' and the policies of the UK or US governments. I include the US because its obviously the home of the most powerful of those agencies as this reference in the Guardian to the CIA's role in the UK illustrates:

"Indeed, in 1991 journalist Richard Norton-Taylor revealed the existence of a list of something like 500 prominent Britons, including around 90 in the media, who were in the employ of the CIA, and paid through the old friend of the intelligence services, the BCCI."
( Guardian May 5 2004)

There are a lot of rumours out there of course and for example the Phoenix has this to say about Minister for Justice Michael McDowell who is particularly distinguished in criticising the Republican movement including McGuinness:

"In the present climate of dirty tricks, the Stormont controversy and other manoeuvres by shadowy people in Britain Intelligence, one is entitled to ask if the same people are pulling [Lord] Laird's strings - as well as McDowell's."
(The Phoenix Dec 16 2005)

Without adding or detracting from the obvious implication of the Phoenix's remarks you cannot help thinking that if this was true, taken together with the story on McGuinness, it implies that much of Irish political discourse is a kind of Punch and Judy show with the participants no doubt sharing a great joke at the gullibility of the Irish public as they wait for their checks from the one 'puppetmaster' !

Martin Ingram's recent revelations are contained in an article at cryptome (, an interview with Radio Free Eireann in New York ( and a long discussion at the slugger o'toole website ( ).

1. Sean O'Callaghan 'The Informer' (London, 1998) p.264 .

2. You can read a more elaborate discussion of the strategy of tension in the Irish context at . This is revised at with more international comparisons in the Appendix.

3. He was working as a security guard on contract for them at the time.

4. Even Tony Blair was an agent of MI5 before he became PM: which is the Bristol 'Evening Post' of 13 September 2005. This is from David Shayler who reviewed his MI5 file, see .