SF transforms race for Aras
Published 17/09/2011 | 05:00
The entry of Martin McGuinness into the race transforms what was threatening to become a soporific presidential election campaign. Love him or hate him, the current Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister and one-time chief of staff of the Provisional IRA will be a formidable campaigner.
Mr McGuinness is a mass of apparent contradictions. Having been at the heart of the IRA terrorist campaign for more than two decades, he became one of the strongest supporters of the peace process within the republic movement during the 1990s. Then, following the 1998 Good Friday agreement, he took to democratic politics like a duck to water.
While the de facto DUP/Sinn Fein coalition which has ruled Northern Ireland since 2007 may not be to everyone's taste, there can be little doubt but that it has given the region its longest period of political stability for more than half a century. Since entering government, Mr McGuinness has demonstrated a rare talent to reach out to former enemies, forging good working relations with both Ian Paisley and his successor as first minister, Peter Robinson.