Thursday 27 April 2017

McGuinness's steady hand will be missed as unionists will never find a more accommodating coalition partner

Both Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley were conservative family men who liked the simple things in life
Both Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley were conservative family men who liked the simple things in life

Suzanne Breen

Peggy McGuinness was worried about her son. It was 1972, and she had found an IRA beret and belt in his bedroom. Martin had just given up his job and the newspapers were describing him as the officer commanding the Provos' Derry brigade.

"His father is a welder, his brothers are at the bricklaying and carpentry, but what will become of Martin?" she fretted. Mrs McGuinness needn't have worried. Her son ended up something that even in her wildest dreams she wouldn't have considered - deputy first minister of a state he had once vowed to smash.

I interviewed him shortly after his appointment and he stressed how determined he was to build a strong relationship with Ian Paisley, who had once demanded that the Sinn Féin leader be hanged.

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