Minister whose father was murdered by IRA urged McGuinness to apologise

Rev David Clements lost his father to the IRA in 1985
Rev David Clements lost his father to the IRA in 1985

A Methodist minister whose father was killed by the IRA wrote to Martin McGuinness two months ago to urge him to apologise for the “cruel things done” by the IRA.

Rev David Clements, who said he does not know whether Mr McGuinness had read his letter before his death last week, described how the former IRA commander’s refusal to express any regrets for his past “grieves me deeply”.

Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness

His father, reserve Constable William Clements, was shot by the IRA at close range at the gates of Ballygawley police station on December 7, 1985, along with reserve Constable George Gilliland.

The clergyman is now calling for “a comprehensive and inclusive way to deal with the past”.

Rev Clements has worked with the WAVE Trauma Centre for decades. He has described as “simply not good enough” the way victims and survivors are being “told once again that they will have to wait for promises and commitments to be fulfilled”.

In his letter, he described how he prayed for Mr McGuinness during his illness.

“I appreciate the journey you have taken and thank God for the evident grace he has given you along the way,” Rev Clements wrote.

“The present crisis not-withstanding, we owe you much gratitude for the part you have played in recent decades.

“You probably know little or nothing about me, we have met I think only once and that very briefly, though I have had quite a number of meetings and conversations with other senior members of your party. My father was murdered by the IRA in 1985.

“I have worked for over 20 years with WAVE in support of victims of the Troubles – including support for the ‘Disappeared’ and the campaign for a pension for the injured, which shamefully has not yet been delivered. That is perhaps enough background for what I now say.”

He continued: “In interviews you gave you spoke very eloquently and many things you said were helpful.

“But, one thing you said grieves me deeply. It is something you have said consistently. It is that you do not regret your time in the IRA or the things that the IRA did during the time of the ‘armed struggle’.

“I think I understand how difficult it would be for you to say that you are not proud of what the IRA did, never mind that at its core, it was wicked.

“Political considerations and personal feelings may make those words near impossible. Nevertheless I would want you to know how important that would be to so many who have suffered terribly at the hands of the republican movement.

“This may be a ridiculously impertinent suggestion, but I wonder would you consider making an apology on behalf of the IRA for the cruel things done to the likes of Joanne Mathers and my father who were gunned down just doing their jobs in service of the community?

“If you can’t speak the words now, might you consider writing them down to be released at some time in the future, perhaps after you and others concerned have gone into the presence of God?”