The Queen sends message of condolence to the widow of Martin McGuinness
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 01, 2017,
Apr 01, 2017, 9:46
The former UUP leader said many would feel "greater optimism" if he was "at the helm" in the current crisis.
It took place hours after crowds in Londonderry accompanied his coffin on his final journey home to his Bogside neighbourhood.
But among the tributes there were also strong words from some IRA victims not prepared to forgive the republican for his paramilitary past.
McGuinness moved into politics relatively early, becoming one of five Sinn Fein members elected to the short-lived Northern Ireland assembly in 1982.
Such gestures alienated many former comrades who call him a traitor for helping to run the province while the Union Jack was still flying over it. McGuinness countered it was a stepping stone to their goal of a united Ireland.
He died early Tuesday at a hospital in his hometown of Derry.
His funeral will be held tomorrow but DUP leader Arlene Foster is still undecided about attending, it was revealed today.
And Michelle O'Neill also sent her condolences to his family and said she was "inspired" by him.
Condolences streamed in from a number of leaders and political figures, including Prime Minister Theresa May, who acknowledged that McGuinness "played a defining role in leading the Republican movement away from violence".
At the time a frail and emotional McGuinness told a large group of supporters gathered outside his home in the Bogside area of Northern Ireland's second city that it broke his heart that he had to bow out of politics.
Former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Tebbit, who was injured and whose wife was paralysed by an IRA bomb in Brighton's Grand Hotel in 1984, described Mr McGuinness as "a coward". In the years that followed, he played an even more important role in ensuring that the peace would last-personally overseeing the arms decommissioning, joining the new government as the first Education Minister, and later serving as Deputy First Minister, and doing it all with a sense of humor and fairness that inspired both his friends and former foes. He believed in our people - that people of this island should be free. "If he had been repentant my thoughts might have been slightly different", he said. This sequence of mortar attacks proved two things: first, that the IRA could still cause mayhem in mainland Britain nearly any time it wanted; and second, that it was serious about the incipient peace process, given that the mortars deployed were deliberate duds. "We have a historic chance now to bring lasting peace to Ireland and we have to do all in our power to seize it". It is time we learnt from them.
Mr Robinson, who served alongside Mr McGuinness for seven years, said no other republican could have done what he did while sharing power.
"Martin was truly a giant of Irish politics and was known and respected across the world".
After his exit from the IRA, Mr McGuinness allied himself with Sinn Fein, and was their Presidential candidate in the 2011 elections.
His unlikely but genuine friendship with the Reverend Ian Paisley, the late DUP leader, was seen by many as symbolic of how far the North came after the Troubles, the three-decade period of conflict before the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. "There are people who never got their answers", he said.
By 2007, he was Northern Ireland's deputy first minister.
President of Ireland Michael D Higgins led tributes from the Irish Republic, saying Mr McGuinness's death left a gap that would be hard to fill.