Ulster Unionist Leader Mike Nesbitt has expressed his doubts as to the value of any evidence which Martin McGuinness might give to the Smithwick Inquiry, following the deputy First Minister’s announcement that he would be prepared to testify if asked.
Mr Nesbitt said:
“'Martin McGuinness’s comments that he would be prepared to give evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin will be treated with a degree of scepticism from those who remember his evidence to the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday.
Then, Martin McGuinness refused to answer certain questions because he was not prepared to break what he termed “a Republican code of honour.”
His exact words were “I feel I cannot answer that question because there is a Republican code of honour. …For me to identify who these people are would be a betrayal, in my view … To do so would have been a gross act of betrayal…I have a duty, in my view, stretching back 30 years, to those people and I am not prepared to break my word to them under any circumstances.”
We all know that the deputy First Minister has traveled a long road. He has surrendered the Thompson sub machine gun Lord Saville believed he was carrying on Bloody Sunday, and become a Minister of the Crown. Now he has an opportunity to move even further away from his terrorist past. The families of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan deserve the truth of what happened to their loved ones, and the electorate deserve a full account of Martin McGuinness' role in the troubles.
These Tribunals and Inquiries depend on witnesses giving truthful evidence. The oath he will swear to that Tribunal must override any misguided sense of honour he feels towards a criminal gang. Natural justice demands it.”