Martin McGuinness, IRA Man, Northern Irish Leader, Dies at 66

Martin McGuinness, a former Irish Republican Army commander who was deputy first minister of Northern Ireland for a decade, has died aged 66 after a short illness, his party, Sinn Fein, announced on Tuesday.

The former IRA leader turned peacemaker worked at the heart of the power-sharing government following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

When McGuinness became deputy first minister of Northern Ireland in 2007, he served alongside Ian Paisley - one of the most vocal unionist lawmakers and a traditional enemy of republicans such as McGuinness.

McGuinness enjoys fly-fishing, and his condemnation of violence in his soft Derry accent have earned him death threats from the paramilitaries he once led.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said: "History will record differing views and opinions on the role Martin McGuinness played throughout the recent and not so recent past but history will also show that his contribution to the political and peace process was significant".

Paying tribute this morning, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams desribed martin mcguinness as a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the re-unification of his country.

"But above all he loved his family and the people of Derry and he was immensely proud of both".

He did not join the IRA until after the British Army had been sent to Northern Ireland in August 1969 to restore order after a pitched battle between the RUC and people of Bogside.

He was convicted by the Republic of Ireland's Special Criminal Court after being arrested near a auto containing explosives and ammunition.

Sinn Fein refused to appoint a replacement for McGuinness due to a row with the DUP.

Northern Ireland's first power-sharing government, formed in 1999, was led by moderates and afforded only minor roles for Sinn Fein and the most uncompromising Protestant party, Paisley's Democratic Unionists.

In 2012, McGuinness shook hands with United Kingdom monarch Queen Elizabeth II - something that would have been unthinkable only a few years earlier. The two became known as the 'Chuckle Brothers, ' reflecting their warm relationship. All the while, McGuinness expressed newfound support for the police as they faced attacks from IRA splinter groups - a U-turn that exposed McGuinness and his relatives to death threats in their Derry home.

David Mellor never thought he'd be mourning the death of Martin McGuinness, but he feels the future in Northern Ireland is now brighter because of him.

Adds comment from unionist leader in seventh paragraph. "Today is the right time to call a halt to the DUP's arrogance", a frail, weak-voiced McGuinness said as he resigned as deputy first minister.

But British lawmaker Nadine Dories spoke for those who can not forgive.

He is survived by his wife Bernie and four children.

  • Leroy Wright