THE NORTH of Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has hit back at suggestions that Sinn Féin have been involved in "criminality".
Mr McGuinness was speaking at Stormont as he prepared to enter further crisis talks aimed at averting a collapse in the Northern Ireland Executive.
“They will have to put up or shut up,” he said of his party’s opposition. “I won’t put up with any more nonsense.”
Mr McGuinness’ comments come weeks after the government in the North of Ireland was clouded in controversy by PSNI claims that the Provisional IRA is still active.
It followed suggestions by a senior PSNI officer last month that the murder of Kevin McGuigan – himself a former member of the PIRA – was a revenge killing for his part in the murder of former PIRA chief Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison in May.
The PSNI statement was the first official acknowledgement of PIRA activity since the organisation apparently laid their weapons down in 2005.
And it caused concerns over Sinn Féin’s part in the PIRA over the years among unionist politicians.
Mr McGuinness revealed accusations were thrown around during the cross-party talks, convened by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.
“Some parties within these negotiations are attempting to give the impression that there’s linkage between a party in government - what they mean by that is Sinn Fein - and criminality,” he said.
“I’m not going to be accused by others who are trying to besmirch the name of my party particularly against the backdrop of the contributions we have made,” he added.
Despite the suggestion that Sinn Féin have been dishonest about their involvement in and knowledge of PIRA activity, Mr McGuinness is adamant that he is being “honest”.
“I just wish some of them would be as honest as what I am attempting to be,” he said.
Talks have been ongoing in Stormont attempting to resolve the crisis which has seen the country’s First Minister step down.
No significant developments have been reported from the talks so far but Ms Villiers yesterday described them as “focused and productive”.