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Northern Ireland; Dying For Peace

Aired June 24, 2001 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, HOST: Three decades of terror. Three and a half thousand people dead, half of them killed by the IRA.

Northern Ireland's shaky cease-fire holds; for now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People say the war is over. The war isn't over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Renegade IRA units are bombing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It only takes a few people to keep a war going.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: The man who once directed the IRA's guerrilla campaign is now in charge of educating the province's children.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to look to the future, and not to the past.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Easier said than done, for a generation raised on hate.

Good evening and welcome to CNN PRESENTS. I'm Leon Harris.

Tonight: Protestant. Catholic. Loyalist. Republican.

The division lines run deep in Northern Ireland and they are stained with blood. Bitterness and mistrust that surrounds this longstanding conflict threatens to destroy anyone trying to broker a lasting peace.

Martin McGuinness knows this all too well. Once a leading member of the ruthless Irish Republican Army, McGuinness is now a key figure in Northern Ireland's power sharing government, a figure who now wants to deliver his province from turmoil. But many on both sides have serious doubts, and that may spell serious trouble, not only for McGuinness, but also for the fragile peace process.

Now CNN's Nic Robertson with Northern Ireland; Dying for Peace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thirty years of conflict pitting Catholic against Protestant, turning neighbor against neighbor, has left an uneasy peace. There is a sense that war could be just around the corner. This is the story of the battle for peace in Northern Ireland and the story of the most controversial politician in Britain, IRA commander-turned-peace maker Martin McGuinness.

Many question his motives. No one can ignore that this man is risking life for peace. At stake is the fate of a divided people.

Walls built to keep the peace divide the city of Belfast. Catholics and Protestants live side-by-side but poles apart.

(on camera): This is about as hard line a Protestant area as you are going to find. The choppers are hanging around overhead. On the walls, you've got the big murals -- they define the neighborhoods around here.

If you go about a 100 yards this way you'll be in a Catholic area. And one thing you learn as a journalist around here is, how important geography is. Never more so than when the communities feel under threat, and the populations are shifting.

(voice-over): In 1921, after an 800-year presence in Ireland, Britain left all but the northern-most corner of this island. In the north the Protestant majority asserted its right to be part of the United Kingdom. They became known as Unionists or Loyalists.

Most of the Catholic minority here want to be ruled from Dublin, not London. They want the British out. The Nationalists have tried to achieve that constitutionally. The Irish Republican Army tried to achieve it by terror.

By the late 1960s, the troubles as the conflict became known were just beginning. One man emerged to personify the defiance of IRA, Martin McGuinness.

MARTIN MCGUINNESS: I am an Irish Republican. An Irish Republican is someone who believes that the British government should have no part to play in the life of this island, that we believe this island should be free. That it should be sovereign. Should be independent. The people should rule themselves.

ROBERTSON: Hardly a man most would expect to have a top job in a British provincial government, as minister of education, McGuinness controls one of the biggest budgets and most influential posts. It puts him in charge of every schoolchild's education, Catholic and Protestant. In 2001, McGuinness the politician still faced accusations he never actually left the IRA.

PETER ROBINSON, DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY: He was still a member of the IRA's army council. Mr. McGuinness is the minister of education with a responsibility of molding the minds of thousands of our young people.

ROBERTSON: McGuinness denies he is still in the IRA.

About 100 yards down this road, a road where Catholics walk on one side and Protestants on the other literally, is the isolated Protestant Springfield School, which is one of the most controversial in McGuinness' portfolio.

(on camera): Police found a suspicious object and they closed the road. The only activity we can see here, seems to be censored from the school just down there.

(voice-over): The bomb squad has just arrived, but news is filtering out to parents.

A controlled explosion is carried out. No one is hurt. But I soon discover a security alert is the least of this little school's problems.

Protestants are moving out of this area. People enrollment is falling. Parents fear the school could close.

Inside the classrooms, children like Neal are on the frontline of a political game playing out between parents, teachers and the minister of education, Martin McGuinness.

Neal's father Alfie leads parents, calls for extra funds to keep the school open but he can't bring himself to ask McGuinness for money.

ALFIE MCCRORY, PARENT: We would slave in the streets to get the money to keep us open, before we would ask Mr. McGuinness to give us a penny.

ROBERTSON: Protestant blood runs cold at the thought of begging Martin McGuinness to save their school.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Likewise, if I were to invite Martin McGuiness into this school to show him around, to show the wonderful work we were all doing, I would be lynched.

ROBERTSON: The idea of dealing with the education minister is particularly painful. In 1993 the IRA Shankill Bomb targeting a Protestant paramilitary meeting missed.

Nine local people -- all Protestants -- died. Members of the community believed that the man ultimately responsible for this and other Republican atrocities was Martin McGuinness. McCrory was there that day. That's him in the red vest. It's a day he'll never forget. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We look upon Martin McGuinness as a terrorist wearing a suit.

QUESTION: But he is the elected leader and he is very capable of doing this job of leading the education for both Protestant and Catholic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) his qualities from the job he is doing, but I'm saying he has to reassure Protestant people that he is going to achieve.

ROBERTSON: In his ministerial car, I asked Martin McGuinness if he realizes the hostility he is up against among some Protestants.

MCGUINNESS: I think that's probably a minority view. I wouldn't doubt that our people down here are politically motivated.

ROBERTSON: The radical divisions that infuse this society make his job challenging. His dark past haunts him every step of the way.

Since troubles began in the 1960s, thousands of Protestants and Catholics have been physically maimed and mentally scared by bombings and shootings carried out by both sides.

Shelley Gilfillan says her brother and uncle, both members of security forces, were killed by the IRA.

Her own home next to a police station was bombed.

SHELLEY GILFILLAN, CIVIALIAN VICTIM: I'm a very bitter person. I was made bitter by the IRA. Through their doings and through their campaigns of bombings and shootings.

ROBERTSON: She has no doubt whom she holds responsible. Martin McGuinness.

GALVIN: That man caused too much hurt in this area. The killings, no, I couldn't even talk to that man. I wouldn't want to look at his face. He is supposed to be educational minister, yes, he is educational minister -- I wonder how he would feel if all those children went to him and said, you helped murder my grandfather or my uncle or auntie?

MCGUINNESS: I think the legacy of the troubles is something we all have to deal with. Because there's pain in this for everybody.

ROBERTSON: When we come back, Martin McGuinness's rise to the top of the IRA.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: 48 million Americans claim Irish descent. For more than a century, he has sent money, guns, and even volunteers to help free the land of their ancestors.

Martin McGuinness is here now to boost support for his party, Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA. And to add to the $5 million they have raised since 1995.

QUESTION: How is it going?

MCGUINNESS: This man (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

QUESTION: I'm your second shadow.

ROBERTSON: I have indeed been shadowing this man on both sides of the Atlantic.

MCGUINNESS: I think we have incredible support from the United States.

ROBERTSON: It's the first time he has agreed to let a journalist so close for so long. He's on a whistlestop tour of Irish Republican supporters.

Working the crowds with confidence and charm, there appears little to link this smooth political operator with his days of the forefront of the IRA's terror campaigns.

He lives where he was born, in a tight-knit Catholic community in a city whose name even denotes division. To many Protestants, is legendary. But to its residents, especially Catholics like McGuinness, it's (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

In 1969 when was 18 years-old, these streets were engulfed in a political firestorm. The Catholic working class rose up in anger against their Protestant rulers. They claim they were second-class citizens, that they couldn't get decent jobs or houses.

McGuinness joined the protesters, demanding equality for Irish Catholics. The largely Protestant police force responded with brutality. It was to be a wake-up call for a whole generation of Catholics, including the young McGuinness.

MCGUINNESS: The first time I picked up a stone was in the battle which was 1969, whenever the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ROBERTSON: But in the Battle of The Bogside, the police were overwhelmed, and British soldiers were brought in to control the rioting.

In the months that followed, gun battles raged in the streets of Derry. McGuinness witnessed friends and neighbors shot dead.

MCGUINNESS: That scared the living daylights out of me. That really did. At that stage I suppose I realized we had a very bad situation. People were being killed and shot dead by the British army. ROBERTSON: As tensions escalated, this devout Catholic teenager emerged from the shadows as the brazen face of militant Irish republicanism.

Then as now, mention the name Martin and everyone knows who you are talking about.

30 years ago Eamonn McCann was a civil rights leader.

EAMONN MCCANN, FORMER CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: Martin was always one of the lads. And at the same time he stood out as being more articulate than most -- and more self-confident. Obviously the pleasant exterior of Martin is not all that there is to him.

ROBERTSON: 1971 ended with McGuinness second in command of Derry's small but resurgent IRA. Within weeks he would be a Republican hero.

On Sunday the 30th of January, 1972, British paratroopers shot 27 unarmed Catholics in Derry's Box Side during a civil rights march -- 14 were killed. The British army claimed the IRA fired first. The IRA denied it. Bloody Sunday as it become known was to prove a watershed in the history of Irish republicanism.

MCCANN: Bloody Sunday it could be said made the IRA the mass- based organization, and subsequently to be called, thereby made Martin McGuinness into a leader with a mass following.

ROBERTSON: In the months after Bloody Sunday the IRA went to war. Hundreds of bombs exploded in the early 1970s. It looked like Derry had been bombed from the air. At one point, only 20 of the cities 150 shops were still trading.

Under McGuinness' command, the Derry IRA killed policemen and soldiers but avoided civilian fatalities.

At a 1972 IRA news conference the fresh-faced youngster was already well respected. At 22, McGuinness was a Republican heavyweight.

In short the IRA wanted Britain out of Ireland. Martin McGuinness was to oversee the campaign to achieve it. Although McGuinness admits to being an IRA commander on Bloody Sunday he has never acknowledged his rise through the IRA's ranks, but his unauthorized biographer maintains McGuinness became chief of staff.

LIAM CLARKE, "SUNDAY TIMES" CORRESPONDENT: A lot of important attacks were carried out when he was chief of staff, for instance, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

The biggest success the IRA ever had against the British army, the murder of 18 soldiers at one point, that was carried out when Martin McGuinness was in overall charge of the IRA.

MCCANN: He was involved in a military campaign which was cruel to a degree in its execution, which involved blowing innocent civilians to bits, which involved the assassination of alleged informers, which involved ambushes in the dead of night.

ROBERTSON: When challenged on his IRA role, McGuinness picks his words carefully.

MCGUINNESS: I have never been dishonest with people as to what I am and what I represent and I have been part of the Republican struggle over the course of the last 30 years.

ROBERTSON: Scores of IRA volunteers were sent to early graves in the name of the Republican struggle.

When we come back, how McGuinness survived.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Simple, he delivered the IRA to the British government.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Today, there is an uneasy peace: Northern Ireland is governed by Northern Irish politicians, Protestant and Catholic. If McGuinness had not led militant Republicans to the negotiating table this could never have happened.

In 1982 Martin McGuinness began his transition from IRA chief of staff to politician. Victory in local elections was to help convince him the ballot box was a powerful weapon, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm meeting a man who worked for Sinn Fein the political wing of the IRA in Derry, 20 years ago. Without McGuinness' knowledge he rigged that election.

WILLIE CARLIN, FORMER BRITISH AGENT: They got him elected. I had many bosses, I had people with wigs, coats, glasses, at polling stations all day from 9:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night. We stole over 2,000 votes to get Martin elected.

ROBERTSON: But this was not to be Carlin's biggest revelation. He says he was a British military undercover intelligence agent. He says he was ordered to make sure McGuinness won. McGuinness, he believes, has escaped conviction for his violent past because the British government was secretly relying on him to cut a deal.

CARLIN: As far as the British government was concerned, you bring the IRA to the table and we can give you the unification of Ireland. Martin McGuinness -- how did he get to where he got to? And why is walking on water? Why is he a saint? Why has he got the biggest budget? Simple, he delivered the IRA to the British government.

ROBERTSON: In fact, McGuinness had had secret contact with British intelligence for many years. His first encounter had been in 1972, the youngest of six IRA leaders flown to London for secret talks with the government.

His next acknowledged contact was 20 years later in the early 1990s under secret order from the British Prime Minister John Major.

MCGUINNESS: The reality was it was our goal daily, hourly contact between myself on behalf of Sinn Fein and representative of the British government who were reporting directly to John Major.

ROBERTSON: London's message to the Irish Republicans was clear: Britain was prepared to negotiate the future of Ireland but not at the point of a gun. Still, mistrust marred the meetings.

MCGUINNESS: We were dealing with very devious people who had the capability to destroy me as a Republican and the fact to bring about a set of circumstances where I could lose my life as a result of my participation in these talks.

ROBERTSON: Throughout the 1990s the British government invested great hope in McGuinness' ability to deliver the IRA to the negotiating table. Finally in 1997, he did.

MCGUINNESS: I came back out of the meeting again and stood just here at the top of these steps and I felt I had come to take ownership of the place.

ROBERTSON (on camera): This is the parliament of Northern Ireland, and it was here in April 1998, that Martin McGuinness made an historic peace agreement with the British and Irish governments and the political parties of Northern Ireland. To do it he leveraged both the trust of the British government and of the IRA.

As a result of the agreement Britain expected the IRA to de- commission its guns. The IRA figured their former chief of staff would never force them to do it.

(voice-over): It was the start of a hopeful new era in Northern Ireland politics. And the start of a dangerous political high wire act for McGuinness.

Martin McGuinness wasn't the only one with his future at stake. David Trimble, Northern Ireland's first minister, heads the biggest pro-British party.

DAVID TRIMBLE, MINISTER: I remember the first day the assembly sat and my first speech to the assembly. I acknowledged fact that there were people in the room who had done terrible things in the past, but they weren't all in one corner -- just because people have a past doesn't mean they can't have a future.

ROBERTSON: In 1995 David Trimble was himself a rebel rousing hero of diehard Loyalists. They didn't want McGuinness in government until after the IRA guns were decommissioned. Trimble moved forward on trust and lost support of his party. He's been paying the price for his leap of faith ever since.

TRIMBLE: The problem is as far as I can see Martin McGuinness has not kept the agreement because the agreement, he accepted an obligation to achieve decommissioning.

ROBERTSON: That hasn't been achieved and Protestants won't be convinced Republicans want peace, until McGuinness delivers the IRA's guns. The success of the Good Friday peace deal and this parliament hangs on that. So far not one bullet has been decommissioned.

CARLIN: McGuinness and company promised arms. There is no way on this earth it's going to happen. Irish people do not hand weapons to English people, it's simply not going to happen. And people better wake up and realize that.

ROBERTSON: Behind doors normally barred to journalists, a top- level Sinn Fein meeting is under way and there is little debate on handing over weapons. Despite the agreement most here would consider that tantamount to surrender.

MCGUINNESS: The guns are quiet. I think Republicans have made a huge contribution. A major contribution to the search for peace in Ireland.

ROBERTSON: The future of IRA weapons like these captured by Irish police is proving dangerously divisive for Republicans.

When we come back, the threats to McGuinness' life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: The district of South Amaragh hugs the border with the Republic of Ireland. This is the heart of IRA country. It is too dangerous for the British army to patrol by armored car, so they have taken to the skies. From watchtowers, the British army surveys what they call the engine room of iron Republican terrorism.

Martin McGuinness must keep IRA units here loyal to him; it won't be easy. According to British and Irish security sources the mainstream IRA is now hemorrhaging members to the extremist Republican splinter group known as the real IRA.

To convince would be to McGuinness (UNINTELLIGIBLE) are not going soft. His brother-in-law and top IRA Man Brian Keenen reaffirms the revolution is on track.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say the war is over. I don't know what they talking about. What war? The revolution can never be over until we have our country and until the British imperialism where they belong.

ROBERTSON (on camera): We are going into the IRA's heartland, the so-called Bandit Country.

(voice-over): I'm on the trail of a British undercover agent, who says he infiltrated the IRA for 15 years, reaching its senior ranks as an expert bombmaker. He says a death threat letter he received from the IRA backs up his claim. His cover was recently blown.

He is as close to IRA current thinking as a journalist can find and he says McGuinness is still at the helm.

ACTOR'S VOICE: He holds the power of life and death and that is it. He is god. To me, he scared the (beep) out of me. People are going around saying the war is over, but the IRA have not said the war is over.

ROBERTSON: What I want to know is whether the IRA's gunmen and bombers truly believe in the peace process and the route McGuinness has taken.

ACTOR'S VOICE: The area where I was from is a very militant area, and a lot of them are very opposed to it. They are all back on the warpath again, running with the real IRA. A lot of them are sitting in the wings right now, to see when the first bullets to be handed over, which isn't going to happen. To hand over guns is definitely a no; the penalty for that is death.

MCGUINNESS: He and I have risked our very lives to make this peace process work; we have brought our entire constituency with us. Some people have not agreed with the adoptions, and they have left Sinn Fein and they have left our struggle and they are opposing us on a daily basis.

MCCANN: Leading Republicans away from the armed struggle and towards constitutional politics can be very, very dangerous business.

ROBERTSON: In 1921 another IRA Leader, Michael Collins, signed a deal with Britain. He was assassinated as a traitor by rival Republicans.

CARLIN: Martin McGuinness is a Michael Collins waiting to happen, no doubt. If he delivers one bullet or makes a wrong move in the next 12 months he will be killed. No question about that.

ROBERTSON: On Sunday, March 4, 2001, dissident Republicans launch their latest attack against the Good Friday agreement. The taxi bomb outside the world headquarters of BBC Television ensured global exposure. Security forces blamed the Real IRA. They called themselves the Real IRA because they believe, as Martin McGuinness once did, that the only way to get the British out of Ireland is to bomb them out.

The run down estates of McGuinness' home city of Derry, the Real IRA is a clear and the present danger. These Republican dissidents believe McGuinness has betrayed the cause. To them he is a traitor. He cannot be more dismissive.

MCGUINNESS: These groups who are involved in this are micro organizations; they don't even have the courage to claim the actions that they are responsible for.

ROBERTSON: Colleagues say McGuinness has received death threats.

GERRY ADAMS, PRESIDENT, SINN FEIN: Everyone has tried to bring about change. Martin McGuinness is certainly that. Obviously, he is under threat from all of those reactionary elements.

ROBERTSON: Ironically, McGuinness and the British army today share a common enemy: the dissident Real IRA is the biggest threat to peace.

Actually it is a bicycle that bounces off the windshield.

On the mean streets of Belfast the police are despised, taunting them is child's play.

It takes 12 soldiers to protect one policeman.

(on camera): We've just come out of one of the rough Loyalist housing estates; we're now on the main road and the soldiers are out on the streets help police check vehicles. They have been looking for pipe bombs and there have been rocks thrown at the police and army.

But the real threat to those soldiers comes from the splinter Republican groups, those that have broken away from the mainstream IRA.

We've been on the trail of the Real IRA for several weeks now. They are the biggest threat to Martin McGuinness and the peace process. We have lots of secret meetings and now we have been told to come here to Armagh.

This is the street where the Real IRA had the biggest bomb several years ago, killing 29 people.

We're going to meet a representative here who is going tell us why they dislike Martin McGuinness so much.

(voice-over): The leader of the political wing of the Real IRA works in Armagh.

FRANCIS MACKEY, 32 COUNTY SOV. COMMITTEE: I think it will be regrettable if Martin McGuinness or anyone of Sinn Fein was a legitimate target because of the political reaction he chose, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to go whatever direction they want. It is not the Republican position. That's what I would make very clear.

ROBERTSON: By agreeing to the Good Friday settlement, Martin McGuinness has overturned many cardinal tenants of Irish Republicanism. Symbolically above his offices, flies the British flag.

QUESTION: What would you say then to those dissidents that regard you as having sold out on the Republican principles?

MCGUINNESS: At the end of the day the people who call it, are the people who have given us their support very loyally over the years and who have placed a lot of trust and faith in us. They don't see me as a British minister. They certainly don't see me as someone who has sold out my Republican beliefs; I'm an Irish Republican.

ROBERTSON: But blood has been spilt on the streets of Belfast since the feud began between the Real IRA and the mainstream IRA.

(on camera): Late last year, a man called O'Connor (ph) was shot ten times in the head on he walked down this street. He was reputedly the Belfast brigade commander of the Real IRA. No one around here has any doubt who killed him.

He became a threat to the mainstream IRA. That's why he was killed.

(voice-over): The feud is crossing the Atlantic. The Real IRA has recently bought weapons from sympathizers here in Boston. I'm to meet a man who used to be Sinn Fein's main fund-raiser in the United States. He joined the dissident Republicans, rather than follow what he says is McGuinness' misguided policy.

MARTIN GALVIN, IRISH FREEDOM COMMITTEE: There's core support in the United States and growing support in the Republican grassroots who won't be dismissed by saying their micro groups or small groups hopefully they be able to say some point, I have been caught in another British trap.

ROBERTSON: In May 2001 vowing to pressure of British and Irish governments, the Bush administration finally outlawed the Real IRA, making it harder for them to raise funds.

When we come back, the race is on to implement the peace deal before a return to war becomes inevitable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Image intensifiers, cameras, microphones and binoculars probe his neighborhood for anything out of the ordinary. The unwanted attention is not limited to Derry.

South Armagh's 13 watchtowers are the most powerful British presence in Northern Ireland. The British army says the high-tech lockout saves soldiers lives. And they have recently foiled many attacks by the dissident Real IRA.

McGuinness says if Britain gets rid of them the Real IRA will lose support.

Tony CRR is actively campaigning for the dismantling of the towers. She lives right next to one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every one's everyday lives are listened to, watched, recorded, it's a total invasion of everyone's privacy.

ROBERTSON: The watchtowers are a legacy of the days before the IRA cease-fire and were even then she says were effective.

TONI CARRAGHER, SOUTH ARMAGH RESIDENTS ASSN.: War was on here I mean these posts here, made the IRA extremely active. They never deferred their movements.

ROBERTSON: To prove its delivering on promises made in the 1998 Good Friday agreement the British government is tearing down some of its army bases, like these along the bothered with the Republican of Ireland. They can't do more, they say, while soldiers are still under threat.

For three decades the streets of Belfast have presented a terrifying training ground for young British soldiers. Their job is to provide security for policemen; that puts them on the front line of a battle so hard to define, your enemy could walk past you and you would never know.

The Good Friday agreement calls for troop cuts and a radical restructuring of the overwhelmingly Protestant police. The aim is for the new force to have equal numbers of Catholics and Protestants. Republicans are not happy with the changes so far.

For Unionists the touch-tone issue is the future of IRA guns. McGuinness says the decommissioning depends on whether Republicans are satisfied with police reforms and the pace of the British army's demilitarization. Another crisis is looming.

Once again it's over the issue of IRA guns. Journalists are gathering at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Castle near Belfast, to find out whether the Good Friday agreement can be kept alive.

The British and Irish prime ministers have been negotiating all day. Chief Republican negotiators Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams are at the center of this frantic bid to keep this peace treaty on track. Behind the scenes they have convinced the IRA to reenter talks about decommissioning their guns.

ADAMS: I'm prepared to trust David Trimble and his colleagues but they need to know Sinn Fein does not have the responsibility, the obligation or the desire to shepherd the IRA and the army on UUP or on British government terms.

ROBERTSON: The British and Irish prime ministers are trying to put a positive spin on yet another day, where there was real no breakthrough.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Let's always be clear about this in Northern Ireland. What we are doing in relation to this process which is to build stability and peace for the long term, what we are doing is infinitely better, indescribably better than the alternative.

MCGUINNESS: I am prepared to trust people like that. I think some of them are prepared to trust me. Nobody was saying we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) blink of a eye. This is always going to be a long and difficult and hard route, but we have come a considerable way down that road.

ROBERTSON: No one is too happy. The guns are still out there. The watchtowers are still in place. And police reform is still unresolved.

When we come back, McGuinness' ability to walk the political highwire is being tested to the limit. If he falls, all bets are off.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: This is an island cut in two by a line on a map. But Ireland's real division is in the hearts of its people. I've come back to Martin McGuinness' home city of Derry.

CARLIN: There's always people who tell you the war started in Derry. And that's where it ends. Derry has always been the place.

ROBERTSON: Derry has changed much since the IRA's bombing campaign of the 1970s. McGuinness has also undergone a radical transformation.

(on camera): But for all his achievements in delivering IRA to the negotiating table, Martin McGuinness realizes there's little chance of the IRA surrendering their weapons. That alone could bring down the peace deal. His Republican critics say that his betraying everything that the IRA killed, fought and died for. Many Unionists still see him as a terrorist godfather with blood on his hands. McGuinness is under enormous pressure, although you would never know it to look at him.

MCGUINNESS: I have always believed in myself. From the day I stood with the young people and the old people of Derry and threw stones during the Battle of the Bogside. It was from that moment on that I believed, we could achieve important things.

ADAMS: I think I can say categorically there would not be a peace process without Martin McGuinness. One of his great strong is his honesty; everyone is wrong, but he is honest. He is very, very straightforward -- what you see is what you get.

ROBERTSON: This day the former IRA chief of staff-turned education minister is visiting his own first school. The man who dropped out at 15 is preaching his gospel of self belief to a new generation, whose future he holds in his hands.

MCGUINNESS: And my message to you people is believe in yourselves. You can be anything you want to be.

ROBERTSON: The passage of time and all of the lost lives may have mellowed this 51-year-old grandfather, but at Republican events he reveals he beliefs are steadfast.

MCGUINNESS: We have no intention of being hoodwinked by (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MCCANN: No Martin McGuinness, no cease-fire -- I think you can put it as strongly as that. And I think Martin McGuinness' reputation in history will depend upon whether he has called this one right.

ROBERTSON: McGuinness has never doubted he is right. His apparent conversion to peace poses the question of him: does he regret all the IRA killings? It's a question he is unlikely to answer. For Martin McGuinness, like everyone else in this conflict, the most painful truths are often to swallow.

MCGUINNESS: Sometimes the people here are best suited to bring a conflict to an end, to get an agreement, are the very people that are a part of that conflict in the first place.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: While peace talks grind on in Northern Ireland, continued violence in the streets may speak louder than words. Peace is a dream voiced by many, but for now it is far from a reality.

I'm Leon Harris. We'll see you next time on CNN PRESENTS.

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