Mary Kenny: McGuinness continues to astound with his progress
When the history of our time is written, surely one of the most significant characters in Irish national life will turn out to be James Martin Pacelli McGuinness, currently Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
As the world knows, and as he has admitted himself in a court of law, Martin McGuinness was a prominent leader of the Provisional IRA in Derry. Charged, and convicted by the Republic of Ireland's Special Criminal Court in 1973 after he was caught with a vehicle containing 250lbs of explosives, he declared his membership of the Provisional IRA with the ringing words -- "I am a member of Oglaigh na hEireann and very, very proud of it".
Mr McGuinness was not just a member of the Provos, he was a leader. It was said in Derry that the young men of the Bogside, and anywhere else in the nationalist vicinity, would have followed Mr McGuinness to the ends of the earth. They'd have done anything for him: and they clearly did a lot for him which, perhaps, today might be cause for repining. Many lives were lost and many taken during those melancholy years of 'The Troubles'. But we cannot change the past: we have to deal with it.