Participation of Martin McGuinness criticised

Tuesday 25 October 2011 22.19
Martin McGuinness has been called on to tell the truth to victims' families
Martin McGuinness has been called on to tell the truth to victims' families

A daughter of Jean McConville and her husband have criticised the participation of Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness in the Presidential election.

Jean McConville was the mother of ten who was abducted by the IRA in Belfast in 1972 and shot dead.

Her body was found 31 years later in 2003 by a passer-by on a Co Louth beach.

Speaking at her home in Co Down, Helen McKendry said: "I don't think Martin McGuinness should be standing. He should be telling the truth to victims' families, the whole truth."

Her husband, Seamus McKendry, said: "I think the office of President has too much prestige for any Sinn Féiner to be contesting it."

The McKendrys demonstrated against Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams when he ran as a Dáil candidate in Co Louth during the last general election.

Elsewhere, the family of Tom Oliver who was kidnapped and killed by the IRA in July 1991 has attacked Mr McGuinness over his failure to say that Mr Oliver was murdered.

On The Frontline last night, on local radio today and in answer to questions from RTÉ in Drogheda, Mr McGuinness said he would not disagree with the families of Mr Oliver or Jean McConville when they described the deaths as murder.

However, he did not actually say they had been murdered.

Mr Oliver was a farmer who was kidnapped and killed by the IRA. They said he was passing information to the gardaí - a claim his family have always denied.

This evening the son of Mr Oliver, Eugene Oliver, issued a statement on behalf of the family.

It was issued through the Seán Gallagher campaign team.

In it Eugene Oliver said he was really upset when he heard Mr McGuinness warn another candidate on The Frontline to tell the truth.

"What shallow hypocrisy from a man who has dined out on weasel words for most of his career," the statement said.

Mr Oliver said he wanted Mr McGuinness to "stop hiding behind weasel words" and admit that his father and Mrs McConville were murdered by the IRA.

The statement went on to say that everyone saw the "empty words" of Mr McGuinness on The Frontline programme when he refused to describe their deaths as murder.

"Even at this late stage, with just days to go to polling, he could not find it in his heart to admit my father, along with other innocent people, were murdered," Mr Oliver said.

Before people vote he said his family were entitled to hear the death of Mr Oliver admitted as murder.

"He was gunned down in cold blood and even twenty years after, at this remove my family are entitled to finally and unequivocally hear the words 'murder' uttered from his lips," the statement adds.