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PostDeath of Martin McGuinness (Patrick Mears, Germany, 03/22/17 3:11 am)
As you all undoubtedly know, Martin McGuinness, a former IRA and Sinn Fein man, passed away in Derry, his birthplace and home, on March 21st. McGuinness and his partner, Gerry Adams, were instrumental in striking a deal on power sharing in the Northern Ireland government in 1998 via the Good Friday Agreement, with help from Ian Paisley, George Mitchell, Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, among others. This agreement, and the reforms that followed from it, ended decades of violence and killings not only between Protestants and Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland but also between the Irish Republican Army and the British Army. McGuinness, who recently resigned his role in NI politics because of a serious illness, sadly succumbed to that illness.
My wife, Connie, and I are here in Derry (Londonderry) now, staying at the Bishop's Gate Hotel near the Walls--the same walls that withstood the siege laid by King James II in 1689 with the help of the "Apprentice Boys." The Walls are remarkable in that they are still intact and have never been overcome by an opposing military force. After dinner last night, I (Connie declined) took a walk on the Walls near the Double Bastion where the Walls command a wonderful view of Bogside, the Roman Catholic area of Derry. On the Walls, a number of news reporters were filming stories about McGuinness' passing and interviewing individuals against that backdrop. I believe that I was the only "tourist" or non-interviewer/non-interviewee there--it was twilight and hardly anyone was on the streets in this area at the time. As I began to leave, I saw two reporters interviewing someone my age with a grayish beard and glasses and so I walked over to observe. I was surprised to see that it was Gerry Adams, so I lingered to listen and, as he was leaving, I wished him well and thanked him and he returned the greetings.
That was a big thrill for me, to say the least, but I was extremely disappointed that Connie passed on coming along with me for what normally would have been just a short jaunt on the Walls. I will watch the local news tonight for this interview. What a surprising way to begin a short trip to Ireland, although it should have been under happier circumstances.
JE comments: Martin McGuinness was still relatively young, just 66. He and Gerry Adams were mere youth (early 20s) during their militancy of the 1970s. McGuinness is proof that the distinction between terrorist and "freedom fighter" depends on your perspective. Many in the US tend to remember The Troubles in romantic terms, but the violence and the dying were very real.
I learned that the British police had a code name for McGuinness: Art Garfunkel. There was a resemblance. See below, together with Mr Adams.
Martin McGuinness: Terrorist and Peacemaker
(Nigel Jones, UK
03/22/17 2:29 PM)
An interesting encounter for Patrick Mears (22 March) on the day of Martin McGuinness's demise. I have mixed feelings about the man, and his close companion Gerry Adams.
On the one hand, there is little doubt that McGuinness as a young IRA commander took part in and ordered acts of mass murder and torture, including of innocent civilian victims and children (if you count policemen and soldiers as non-innocents), which, whatever view is taken of Irish republicanism, were unforgivable. And many of his victims and their families do not forgive him, despite the statesmanship he showed more recently.
On the other hand, it is indisputable that with age and maturity McGuinness played a key role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland after decades of violence.
He is not the first former terrorist to renounce violence and pursue the path of peace. Jomo Kenyatta, Archbishop Makarios, and even the sainted Nelson Mandela took the same path, as did McGuinness's countryman Michael Collins.
Where I would fault McGuinness, however, is that he never once admitted his IRA rank, never apologised to his victims, and went to his grave apparently without repenting of his early crimes. According to the Christian Catholic religion which lies at the heart of Irish republicanism, forgiveness of sin can only follow true and genuine repentance.
JE comments: Nigel Jones wrote me off-Forum that he was in London today, but fortunately away from the Westminster area of the terrorist attack. WAISer Tim Ashby was not far from the incident, at the Carlton Club, but is also safe.