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LOAD OF HOOEY*; McGuinness blasts claims he's Brit spy as 'DUP dirty tricks'.

Byline: By LOUISA PILBEAM and JENNA SLOAN

SINN Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness yesterday blasted allegations he was a British spy as "hooey".

The Mid-Ulster MP blamed elements of the DUP for setting him up with the claims published in a newspaper on Sunday.

Mr McGuinness said: "They are total and absolute nonsense and they are hooey of the worst kind."

He added he was "one million per cent confident" no one would ever produce any evidence against him.

The former Stormont Education Minister was speaking after a meeting of his Assembly group and for the first time publicly since the allegations broke.

The MP called the claims "a dirty deed, a dirty trick".

He said: "There are people within the DUP who are trying to sabotage our efforts. There are obviously certain elements of the DUP who are up to their necks in this story. I have worked all of my adult life as an Irish republican. Many of my comrades have been killed.

"Many IRA volunteers have been killed and I, of course, knew many of them, as many of you well know.

"Under no circumstances will I ever be concerned about anybody throwing anything up at me which will stick against me.

"It is not even a remote possibility."

The allegations against Mr McGuinness were made by former Army intelligence handler using the name Martin Ingram and were published in The Sunday World.

Five years ago Ingram exposed Belfast republican Freddie Scappaticci as British agent Stakeknife, who operated at the heart of the IRA.

Mr Scappaticci denied the allegations but later fled his West Belfast home.

Last December Sinn Fein's Denis Donaldson was named as a British spy.

Donaldson admitted he had spied on republican colleagues in a confession broadcast on Irish TV and later went to ground. He was found shot dead at his remote cottage hideaway in Co Donegal in April.

Sinn Fein has rubbished Mr Ingram's claims, which are based on a transcript of a conversation which he alleged was between Mr McGuinness and an MI6 handler.

Mr McGuinness added yesterday: "Now you would need to have nerves of steel to be part of a Sinn Fein leadership which has had to take the sort of muck and abuse thrown at us over the course of many years, but we are in positions of leadership.

"If you don't like the heat, you get out of the kitchen.

"We have never jumped out of the kitchen. We will stay in this process to the bitter end.

"We are not going to be distracted. We are not going to be deflected and ultimately we are going to work through and I think our people have a very real sense that that is the case."

The DUP's Ian Paisley Jnr called for an inquiry into the claims, adding: "If it embarrasses Sinn Fein or the British Government, that's their problem."

ulster@mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

ADAMANT: Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness' *hooey n, interj Sl. nonsense.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 31, 2006
Words:499
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