Thursday 27 April 2017

Over 50 years he took the IRA to war, to armed peace, to politics

The late Martin McGuinness led the IRA on a remarkable journey from violence to politics over half a century, is pictured in Derry in 1985. Photo: Pacemaker Press
The late Martin McGuinness led the IRA on a remarkable journey from violence to politics over half a century, is pictured in Derry in 1985. Photo: Pacemaker Press
John Downing

John Downing

Martin McGuinness was a central figure in the IRA's brutal "long war" in the North - but he was equally central to the long quest for peace.

His death, aged 66, will speed up a generational change in the leadership of Sinn Féin. Last September Gerry Adams conceded for the first time that he would be standing down as party leader after 33 years - but remained coy about when this would happen.

Mr McGuinness shocked the Irish public on both sides of the Border as he emerged on television in January as a frail and weakened figure stricken by illness which suddenly had terrible effects. His final political act was to shut the North's power-sharing government and trigger early elections amid much acrimony towards the Democratic Unionist Party.

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