Northern Ireland

Norman Tebbit says Martin McGuinness shooting jibe was mistake

Lord Tebbit
Image caption Lord Tebbit said he regretted the trouble his remarks had caused

Lord Tebbit has conceded he made a mistake when he said he hoped Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness would be shot.

The Conservative peer, whose wife was paralysed by an IRA bomb, had suggested dissident republicans would shoot him for attending a Royal banquet.

His remarks were criticised as "highly dangerous" by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

Lord Tebbit said he now regretted the trouble his comments had caused.

When asked if he would withdraw his remarks, Lord Tebbit said: "I don't think I would advise anyone or entreaty anybody to shoot Mr McGuinness - I would welcome it if he was brought to trial, of course."

Mr McGuinness has previously received death threats from dissident republican paramilitaries over Sinn Féin's support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

He had described Lord Tebbit's initial comments as "absolutely dismaying".

Image caption Martin McGuinness, a former IRA man, was a guest of the Queen at the state banquet at Windsor Castle

Lord Tebbit said the criticism of his remarks by Mr McGuinness were "a bit rich".

"When he has owned up to the crimes that were plotted and carried out by the IRA when he was a leader and could have said 'no we must not do that', when he has pleaded for forgiveness and expressed his repentance, then of course I would be very pleased to meet him and talk about those things," he said.

Lord Tebbit said his wife Margaret had not been in good health since she was injured in the 1984 bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Conservative Party's conference.

"She is in a great deal of pain, she is extremely limited in what she can do and she is entirely dependent on people to look after her," he said.

"We are not able to go on a holiday or anything of that kind, and she can scarcely go to visit anyone because there are very few places that are adequately equipped for her to be looked after.

"She lives a very restricted life - she is in prison."

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