Sunday 24 September 2017

'Statesman' McGuinness's coffin carried to family home

Bernie McGuinness helps to carry her husband Martin McGuinness’s coffin through the
streets of Derry yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Bernie McGuinness helps to carry her husband Martin McGuinness’s coffin through the streets of Derry yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Adrian Rutherford

Hundreds of people accompanied Martin McGuinness's Tricolour-draped coffin as it made its way through the streets of Derry to his family home.

Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister passed away at Altnagelvin Hospital surrounded by family members in the early hours of yesterday. The 66-year-old had been suffering from a rare heart condition.

Mr McGuinness's health deteriorated rapidly after he was forced to pull out of a trade mission to China in December.

After resigning as deputy first minister in January, he announced he was quitting frontline politics to concentrate on recovering from "a very serious illness".

Mr McGuinness said he was not physically able to fight the campaign ahead of the March 2 election.

Sinn Féin figures remained tight-lipped about his health, but it had become increasingly clear in recent days that Mr McGuinness was gravely ill.

While tributes poured in from political leaders in Belfast and beyond yesterday, there were also strong words from some victims not prepared to forgive Mr McGuinness for his paramilitary past.

Michelle O'Neill, Mr McGuinness's successor at the head of Sinn Féin in Stormont, described him as "an international statesman".

"He was a man who was recognised as a peace maker and a man who touched the lives of so many people," she said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said her thoughts were with the family, including wife Bernie, and children Emmet, Fiachra, Fionnuala and Gráinne.

However, Stephen Gault, whose father Samuel died in the 1987 Poppy Day bombing, said he would remember Mr McGuinness only as a "terrorist".

Yesterday, family members and senior Sinn Féin figures, including party president Gerry Adams, carried Mr McGuinness's coffin along part of the journey to the family home in the city's Bogside area.

Mr McGuinness' Requiem Mass will be held at St Columba's Church Long Tower at 2pm tomorrow, followed by burial in the City Cemetery.

Irish Independent

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