Tuesday 17 October 2017

A leader's health is never a private matter

If Martin McGuinness really thinks his health affects only him, then he is very much mistaken

Martin McGuinness Photo: PA
Martin McGuinness Photo: PA

Eilis O'Hanlon

The first that most people probably knew how seriously Martin McGuinness's health was affecting him was when they saw Monday's press conference at which he announced his resignation as deputy First Minister over disagreements with the DUP. His voice was weak; he looked frail.

It was no secret that the former IRA leader was suffering from some kind of health setback, but he'd looked in good enough fettle on December 19, when the Northern Ireland Assembly held a debate on a motion of no confidence in First Minister Arlene Foster over her handling of the financial shambles of the so-called Renewable Heating Initiative.

The shock of seeing him in the New Year was made worse by the silence and secrecy with which Sinn Fein had handled questions in the preceding weeks. Regardless of whether the Assembly could be saved, it was now obvious to most observers that McGuinness would not be in office much longer.

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