Northern Ireland

'Unionists' McGuinness concerns wrong - Jackie McDonald

Jackie McDonald
Image caption Jackie McDonald said that Martin McGuinness was now a man of peace

A UDA leader has said that unionists would be hypocritical to oppose Martin McGuinness becoming Irish president.

Jackie McDonald has forged a relationship with the current president Mary McAleese and her husband Martin.

He said that unionists who accept Mr McGuinness as deputy first minister would be wrong to oppose him being a candidate.

He said he thought that Mr McGuinness had "massaged the truth" about his IRA past but was now "a man of peace".


Mr McDonald is the leader of an organisation which murdered hundreds of people during the Northern Ireland Troubles.

However during the peace process, he has been a regular visitor to Aras an Uachtarain, the home of the president and her husband.

Since announcing his candidacy, Mr McGuinness has faced calls on both sides of the border for him to make more admissions about his role in the IRA.

Speaking to the Good Morning Ulster programme, Mr McDonald said that, while he understood well the concerns of victims, such demands were misguided and it would be impractical for Mr McGuinness to "tell the truth" in isolation.

He added: "If they are talking about telling the truth, will the British government tell the truth? Will everybody tell the truth?

"He's isolated himself by nominating himself for president but in the overall picture, if we talk about truth, we have to talk about everybody telling the truth, not bits and pieces of the truth.

"I am not so much interested in what he did - there will be people more concerned about his past or his present or his future, but I would rather Martin McGuinness be doing what he is doing now."

'Plausible fella'

Mr McDonald described Mary McAleese as a "wonderful person" and said she would be a very difficult act to follow.

Image caption Mr McDonald said Mr McGuinness' candidature was another attempted step to a united Ireland

"What she has done during her time in office is fantastic.

"He is a very plausible fella. I have met him a few times and we've talked about working class issues.

"I don't have a problem with him in his present position. Regarding him being in the Aras, I don't know if he could do the things that either Mary (Robinson or McAleese) has done in the last 21 years."

He added that some of his friends and young people felt that Mr McGuinness' candidature was another attempted step towards a united Ireland.

"And of course it is, because that is Sinn Fein's strategy," he added.

"Two months ago, we all had a chance to vote and too many of our people sat on their backside and did nothing.

"We don't have to fear Sinn Fein, we don't have to fear anybody. We just have to have a bit more confidence in ourselves and have a bit more confidence in what we believe in."

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