Northern Ireland

Martin McGuinness death: Politicians and public react

Martin McGuinness Image copyright Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Image caption Martin McGuinness died in hospital on Tuesday morning

Politicians and others have been giving their reaction to the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin, who has died aged 66.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams

Image copyright AP
Image caption Gerry Adams said Martin McGuinness was "a passionate republican" who worked tirelessly for peace

"Throughout his life, Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness.

"He was 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."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Theresa May with Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle last year

"While I can never condone the path he took in the earlier part of his life, Martin McGuinness ultimately played a defining role in leading the republican movement away from violence.

"In doing so, he made an essential and historic contribution to the extraordinary journey of Northern Ireland from conflict to peace.

"While we certainly didn't always see eye-to-eye even in later years, as deputy first minister for nearly a decade, he was one of the pioneers of implementing cross-community power-sharing in Northern Ireland. He understood both its fragility and its precious significance and played a vital part in helping to find a way through many difficult moments."

Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O'Neill

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Image caption Michelle O'Neill said he was a "legend"

"Martin was truly a giant of Irish politics and was known and respected across the world.

"He led republicanism from the front for decades, striving for reunification and promoting peace and reconciliation and a genuine commitment to equality and respect.

"His leadership, grace and warm personality have transformed Irish politics for the better and his impact will be felt for many years to come."

DUP leader Arlene Foster

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Media captionDUP leader Arlene Foster said McGuinness wanted to see Stormont succeed

"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.

"In recent years, his contribution helped build the relative peace we now enjoy.

"While our differing backgrounds and life experiences inevitably meant there was much to separate us, we shared a deep desire to see the devolved institutions working to achieve positive results for everyone."

Bill Clinton, former US president

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Bill Clinton on a visit to Derry in 2010

"When he decided to fight for peace, Martin was calm, courageous and direct.

"And when he gave his word, that was as good as gold.

"He believed in a shared future, and refused to live in the past, a lesson all of us who remain should learn and live by."

Tony Blair, former UK prime minister

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Media captionTony Blair tells Today what made Martin McGuinness formidable foe also made him formidable peacemaker

"The same fierceness he brought to the armed struggle he brought to the cause of peace

"That leadership and the courage in bringing his movement with him was for me, and will be, the defining legacy of Martin McGuinness".

Veteran civil rights leader Ivan Cooper

Image caption The veteran civil rights leader Ivan Cooper worked with Mr Guinness over the years

"No matter what anyone says about his violent past, to a large extent he carried the peace process.

"We must pay tribute to Martin's legacy. He was a man of great courage. He was not a coward.

"I'm sorry he has died so young.

"I met him during the days of the civil rights movement. He was very friendly and very frank.

"Derry will be worse off without him."

Former first minister and DUP leader, Peter Robinson

Former DUP leader Peter Robinson said: "We came together in that office after the heady euphoria of reaching agreement had faded.

"The honeymoon was over and we had to work the hard yards of operating the system in a manner that would instil confidence and bring delivery.

"Yet while I knew his past, as he knew mine, we never doubted or gave up our shared commitment to create a new and better era in Northern Ireland politics.

"We had the best of personal relationships - keeping in touch even after my retirement and during his illness."

Image copyright PACEMAKER

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Image caption Taoiseach Enda Kenny said his passing was "a significant loss"

"His passing represents a significant loss, not only to politics in Northern Ireland, but to the wider political landscape on this island and beyond.

"Not only did Martin come to believe that peace must prevail, he committed himself to working tirelessly to that end.

"His commitment to securing enduring peace and prosperity for all of the people of Northern Ireland was unwavering throughout this time."

Jim Dixon, survivor of the Enniskillen bombing

"In one way I would say good riddance, but I will weep for him because he's gone now to meet the judge of all the earth from whom no secrets are hidden.

"You can't forgive someone who hasn't asked for forgiveness and nobody will get forgiveness either from God or anybody else without repenting first and asking forgiveness."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said they had "always enjoyed a warm and respectful relationship"

"The loss of Martin McGuinness is a significant moment in the history of this island but it is first and foremost, a devastating loss to his family, friends and colleagues. Our thoughts are with them now.

"History will record his political career as a journey - one born in a tradition of violence but, in testament to Martin's character, that arrived at his true calling in politics, people and the art of persuasion."

Former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain

Image caption Peter Hain said Martin McGuinness was "a crucial leader"

"He was a very, very important figure in the peace process.

"He was also somebody who contributed to Northern Ireland's troubled history in all sorts of ways, some extremely controversial, some engendering bitterness but, ultimately, when the opportunity, came he was a crucial leader in transforming Northern Ireland from terror and mayhem and horror into a place of hope."

Mike Nesbitt, Ulster Unionist Party

Image caption Mr Nesbitt said Martin McGuinness was "a pivotal figure at Stormont"

"This will also be a very challenging day for victims of the Troubles. I believe no-one needed to die to get Northern Ireland to where it is today. Clearly Martin McGuinness very actively disagreed with that analysis, but I also accept, in his later years, he was on a journey to create change through politics, becoming a pivotal figure at Stormont.

"It would be less than honest if I said other than that I found him a straight-dealing politician in any engagement I had with him.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire

Image copyright AP
Image caption James Brokenshire paid tribute to Mr McGuinness' "essential role" in securing political progress

"Martin's personal journey and the clear influence he had on others in the republican movement were instrumental in shaping political institutions in Northern Ireland founded on exclusively peaceful and democratic means.

"While not forgetting the past, no-one can doubt the essential role he played in helping to secure the power sharing arrangements and political progress in Northern Ireland."

Raymond McCartney, Sinn Féin MLA and former hunger striker

Image caption Raymond McCartney said he was "a life-long friend"

"I have lost a life-long friend. I was with the family last night and there's a great sense of loss and devastation.

"Martin fought his illness but it took him in the end. Martin addressed many meeting over the years and during the peace process. He was always at the front. He exemplified leadership. Martin was a republican, but he always said republicanism was always about uniting people."

Nigel Dodds, DUP deputy leader

Image caption Nigel Dodds said Mr McGuinness helped people move forward in the peace process

"We can't forget his past. He, himself, didn't forget his past. This will also be a difficult day for victims. But he did help move people forward when it comes to the peace process.

"The talks that are going on at the moment are relatively warm and constructive and Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley deserve enormous credit for taking us to the place we are in today."

Pat and John Hume, former leader of the SDLP

Image caption John and Pat Hume said Martin McGuinness "left an indelible print on politics in Ireland"

"Martin McGuinness left an indelible print on politics in Ireland.

"Our starting points on the approach to finding a solution to the divisions on this island were very different but there can be no doubt Martin was deeply committed to the agreed Ireland of the Good Friday Agreement and its power sharing institutions."

Kyle Paisley, son of late first minister Ian Paisley

"My father and Martin McGuinness did a great deal of good together. A man cannot be defined by what he is in the present only or past only. He is defined by all that he is, both past and present. We can't forget Martin's IRA past, but he did do a lot right, too.

"Our relationship did draw criticism and you have to understand where victims are coming from. However, in order for proper progress you have got to push ahead and be brave. Martin and my father were called the 'Chuckle Brothers'. My dad just got on with business.

"Their relationship in office was good and it was good outside office. They stayed in touch. He was genuinely sorry for us when we lost our dad."

TUV leader Jim Allister

Image copyright Empics
Image caption Mr Allister said his thoughts are with the victims of the IRA

"Naturally, the passing of anyone causes grief and sorrow to their family and friends. All such families deserve condolences.

"In the case of Martin McGuinness he lived many more decades than most of his victims. Sadly, Mr McGuinness thought it appropriate not just to sanction and commit murder but to take those dark secrets to his grave, denying truth and justice to many IRA victims.

"So, today my primary thoughts are with the many victims of the IRA who never reached the age of 66. Of men and women who never got to see their grandchildren because their lives were cut short by murderous republicanism. Of children stolen from their parents and grandparents by the organisation in which McGuinness was a commander."

Former Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael John Bruton

"Notwithstanding our profound political differences, I always found him to be a very friendly person and easy to talk to.

"The good and warm personal relationship he developed with Ian Paisley set a very good example. But it has yet to be followed by a genuine political reconciliation between the two communities they represented.

"It is sad that Martin will not be around to complete the important task he undertook."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin

"By his actions and words over the last 25 years, he demonstrated a keen understanding of what the peace process was all about.

"He worked to build bridges between the different traditions and communities on the island.

"He reached out to the Unionist community in particular, and their leaders, to steer Northern Ireland towards a better shared future."

Ceann Comhairle (Speaker of the Irish parliament) Seán Ó Fearghaíl

"Martin McGuiness was an iconic figure who made the journey from conflict to peace, playing a key role in in bringing about and maintaining the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

"He was a capable, hard-working and determined man who showed a willingness to compromise and reach out to others in a spirit of reconciliation.

"I'd like to express my deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and the people of Derry on their loss."

Former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Tebbit

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Media captionLord Tebbit: "He was a coward"

"He was a coward.

"The reason he suddenly became a man of peace, was that he was desperately afraid that he was going to be arrested and charged with a number of murders.

"It's not merely that these creatures crippled my wife, but they also murdered five of my close friends. I only hope that his death will help to bring some sort of closure to those families and friends of those whose murders he accomplished."

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton

Image caption Mr Hamilton said Martin McGuinness "believed in a better future for our community"

"Our society suffered grievously throughout our troubled history; and many police officers and their families are among those who suffered.

"Martin's journey in life challenges all of us who care about the future; to be prepared to change; to demonstrate leadership; and to work to understand the world, not just from our own perspective, but from the perspectives of everyone in our community."

Austin Stack, whose father Brian died after being shot by the IRA

"I think that when we look at Martin McGuinness' legacy we have to look at the totality of that legacy.

"Martin McGuinness and his organisation were responsible for thousands of murders, thousands of atrocities.

"He is lauded today as a peacemaker but from our perspective as victims, Martin McGuinness never at any stage tried to reach out to the victims.

"He never tried to reconcile with victims. He never acknowledged his victims."

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jeremy Corbyn said Mr McGuinness played an absolutely crucial role in bringing about the Good Friday Agreement

"Martin McGuinness played an immeasurable role in bringing about peace in Ireland, after years as a key protagonist in the tragedy of the conflict.

"Martin played an absolutely crucial role in bringing about the Good Friday Agreement and a peace process which, despite difficulties, remains an example throughout the world of what can be achieved when the will is there.

"As we reflect on his role, the past 20 years have shown us that if there is leadership and the will on all sides, we can achieve change."

Archbishop Eamon Martin

"I will remember Martin as someone who chose personally to leave behind the path of violence and to walk instead along the more challenging path of peace and reconciliation.

"As a leader he was courageous and took risks in order to bring others with him, convincing them that goals could be achieved by politics and persuasion.

"He was a man of prayer and I am personally grateful for his good wishes and encouragement to me, as a fellow Derry man, in my own vocation.

"The story of conflict in Ireland has brought much pain and trauma and I thank God that in recent years we have preferred peace to the horror of violence and war.

"People like Martin McGuinness have made an immense contribution to sustaining peace by reaching out a hand of friendship and reconciliation and being prepared to model alternatives to dispute and division."

Sir Malcolm McKibbin, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service

Image caption Sir Malcolm McKibbin said Martin McGuinness' loss would be acutely felt by his support staff

"Martin was always very supportive and courteous to me as head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service and he was tireless in his efforts to improve the workings of the devolved institution.

Martin's loss will also be acutely felt by his support staff who worked closely with him here in Stormont Castle".


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