Campaign is a ‘circus’- says murder victim’s husband

The husband of Joanne Mathers, the QUB graduate and mother of one, who was murdered by the IRA in 1981 has called Martin McGuinness’s Irish Presidential election campaign a “circus”. Lowry Mathers was speaking to the Sentinel in response to the deputy first minister’s comments that he wished that the armed struggle had never happened.

McGuinness who is currently on a tour of Ireland as part of the leadership battle also said that he does not remember the specifics of the oath of allegiance he took when he joined the IRA.

“He must think that people are very easily fooled,” said Lowry Mathers yesterday. “The thing about Martin McGuinness is that he is a great actor and he is certainly a liar. With him it’s all from the teeth out.

“My wife is dead, murdered by the IRA 30 years ago and he knows who did it. If anybody knows who did it, he does. If he is full of apologies he has never apologised to me. No one from the IRA or Sinn Fein had ever apologised to me.”

The murder of Joanne Mathers was sp heinous that the IRA initially denied responsibility for it.

The young mother was collecting census forms in Anderson Crescent in the Waterside when a lone gunman approached, placed a pistol to her head and fired.

The republican movement at that time were engaged in a campaign of harrassment agianst the nationalist community not to engage in filling in census forms as they believed it to an intelligence gathering method by the security forces.

No one has as yet been brought to book over Joanne Mathers killing-but the case is now the subject of an ongoing Historical Enquiries Team investigation.

Mr Mather’s comments were echoed by MP Gregory Campbell who said that McGuinness’s comments were “cynical to say the least”.

“Despite what he says and despite all his protestations we all know that he was in the IRA from the early 1970s to the 1990s at least,” said the MP.

“It’s funny that in all the time since we have had no expression of regret about his involvement but now that he is in a presidential campaign we are being told on a daily basis about his sorrow and his regret.

“I don’t think that people on either side of the border buy into any of this. Do people in the Republic want someone who was involved in an IRA murder campaign to be their president? What will happen at the end of October when all this is over? I think that we can expect more silence about his regrets. Look at what he did during the Saville inquiry when he was asked about his involvement; he pleaded the fifth. After October it will be business as usual.”

McGuinness was confronted in Athlone earlier this week by the son of a Irish soldier murdered by the IRA in 1983. McGuinness, who was in the Westmeath town as part of his canvass trail, offered his sympathies to the family of Private Patrick Kelly but said that he did not know who had killed him.

Speaking to the Irish media, David Kelly said that he did not believe him.

“I am convinced that he does have that knowledge. He was a leading figure of the IRA at the time,” he said.

It was reported yesterday that the deputy first minister had slipped from third to fifth in the polls and now had support of just 11 per cent of the Irish electorate as opposed to the 17 per cent he had enjoyed in recent weeks.

Former Irish culture Minister Michael D Higgins is the current poll topper, followed closely by openly gay senator and Joycean scholar, David Norris. The election will be decided on October 27.