Sinn Fein's apology over Lord Mountbatten murder is 'attempt to rewrite history', says ex-Army chief

Danielle Sheridan
·2-min read
Lord Mountbatten was assassinated on a fishing boat in 1979 - PA
Lord Mountbatten was assassinated on a fishing boat in 1979 - PA

The former head of the Army has dismissed Sinn Fein’s apology over Lord Mountbatten’s murder as an "attempt to rewrite history".

General Lord Richard Dannatt made his comments after Mary Lou McDonald, the president of Sinn Fein, apologised for the killing of the Duke of Edinburgh’s uncle, who was murdered by the IRA in 1979.

However, Lord Dannatt, who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, said: "We all want to see continuing more peaceful times in Northern Ireland, and we want to see people increasingly being able to live side by side, but I think we also have to be aware that Sinn Fein is quietly trying to rewrite history."

He added: "You can't get away from the fact that terrible things happened during the period of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. That is a fact. That is history. No one wants to dwell on the past, but I think we have to be very wary of Sinn Fein trying to rewrite history, and place that movement into a kinder light than it actually deserves."

Ms McDonald, pictured below, who made her apology following Prince Philip’s funeral, said: “My job, and I think that Prince Charles and others would absolutely appreciate this, my job is to lead from the front, now, in these times.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald  - PA
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald - PA

"I believe it is all our jobs to ensure that no other child, no other family, irrespective of who they are, suffers the same trauma and heartbreak that was all too common on all sides on this island and beyond.”

On Monday, Ms McDonald sought to clarify her comments, insisting it was not a specific apology for Lord Mountbatten's killing by the IRA. She said she felt "the same sense of sympathy for every family that was bereaved in the conflict. And that's always been my position."

Her comments are likely to be seen as part of a continuing effort by Sinn Fein to change its public image, after the party came close to clinching power in last year's Irish general election.

However, Lord Dannatt cautioned that Lord Mountbatten, who was murdered when the IRA blew up his fishing boat in the village of Mullaghmore in Co Sligo, was not the only person to die on that day.

He stressed that a young schoolboy was also killed at the same time as him, while also on the “same day at Warrenpoint 18 British soldiers were killed”.

“You can't airbrush that out of history, you can't try and make things seem rather better they were, it was bloody, it was difficult,” he told Times Radio.