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8 June 2006 Edition

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Warning of possible plot to kill McGuinness

Sinn Féin has warned that a black propaganda campaign against Martin McGuinness may be an attempt to set up Sinn Fein's Chief Negotiator for assassination.

Gerry Adams described last week's claim that McGuinness was a British agent as "absolute rubbish".

"Every time there's an effort to move the political process forward there has been an intervention. The subtext is that there's a possibility that elements want to see Martin McGuinness dead", said Adams.

"It's a very serious situation. I think it is emanating from the old Special Branch guard possibly still within the PSNI and the dirty tricks operators within British military intelligence", he said.

The Sinn Féin President said it was possible that someone was constructing a set of circumstances where McGuinness might be targeted. "That is one of the dangers arising out of this situation. In other peace processes such things have happened. We saw last week an attempt to kill a senior loyalist who is believed to have been involved in acts of collusion. There have been other killings in the very recent past that suggest a kind of dirty tricks subtext aimed at subverting the political process", said Adams.

Martin McGuinness has voiced anger at the allegations and accused his enemies of trying to get him killed by claiming he was a British spy. McGuinness blamed elements within the DUP who saw it as a means to wreck the political process. "I'm not accusing all of the DUP of being involved in this. I am accusing a certain element within the DUP who are doing their damnedest to prevent an agreement", said McGuinness.

"There are people within the DUP who can't bring themselves to recognise that the future will be Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness in the Office of First and Deputy First Minister", he said.

House of Commons allegations

The allegations were initially made by the DUP MP Willie McCrea on 8 February in the British House of Commons. It would not be the first time that Special Branch and the FRU have used the House of Commons to create conditions conductive to murder.

In 1989 the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was preceded by allegations by British minister Douglas Hogg speaking in the British Parliament. The allegations, later totally discredited, were based on 'briefings' by Special Branch. We now know the FRU and Special Branch played key roles in the subsequent killing of Finucane.

At that time the political stakes were also high. Finucane, a diligent defence lawyer, was successfully undermining Britain's criminalisation strategy. The political stakes are also running high at the present moment as rejectionist unionism struggles to come to terms with sharing power with its former enemies.

Allegations claiming that McGuinness was an agent for MI6 appeared in the northern-based Sunday World two weeks ago. In the article a former member of a covert British army unit known under the pseudonym Martin Ingram, 'identified' a document supplied by Special Branch as 'a 100 per cent authentic' and on the basis of this claimed he was 'a 100 per cent convinced' about the allegation against McGuinness.

'Martin Ingram' is a former member of the FRU, the covert British army unit at the heart of collusion. In other words the FRU has a long and ignoble history of setting people up for assassination. Subversion and dirty tricks are routine for the FRU.

The story that appeared in the Sunday World was based upon a shadowy network of anonymous opinions and secret briefings. Initially Ingram wasn't saying he personally knew anything at all, he was merely claiming that he believed the allegation.

But not only was the status of the document totally spurious, its contents were also utterly incomprehensible. It was left to the former FRU operative once again to step into the breach and provide a narrative to 'interpret' the meaning.

Since then Ingram appears to have whole heartedly adopted a proactive role by creating a website dedicated to discrediting Martin McGuinness.

All this has emerged against the backdrop of attempts by the DUP to stonewall moves to restore power sharing. The latest attempt to restore the institutions ended in deadlock with nationalist politicians collectively pointing the finger at the DUP.

Martin McGuinness accused the DUP of intransigence and said that the DUP's only contribution to the first gathering of the Assembly's Preparation for Government committee had been to frustrate the first item of business, arrangements for chairing the meetings. Sinn Féin said the DUP appeared happy to run away from responsibility and allow direct rule government to continue in the North.

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