McGuinness certainly made the most of life's rare second chance
The words redemption and forgiveness come straight from the lexicon of the Catholic Church. So do we forgive all sins, or none, or some? The first part of the Catholic process of forgiveness is sorrow and the second part is to make amends.
I met up with Martin McGuinness in The White House around this time last year. He was as courteous as could be. I told him how much we all owed him as a people. We had a couple of chats during the day. He was a people person and warm too. I was one of the first from the non- violent brigade to acknowledge his work on behalf of the peace process, in a sports column of all places, and he read it.
But somewhere in the back of my mind there at the steps leading up to the St Patrick's Day party was the near certainty that in his role as head of the IRA in Derry Mr McGuinness gave the orders. The case that comes to mind most is the murder of 29-year-old Joanne Mathers, who was killed in Derry because she was collecting census forms. The IRA was an equal opportunity killer. Jean McConville was murdered in Belfast for another insignificant "crime against the people". I think it is important the victims who died in the war are not forgotten or are seen as sacrificial footnotes to a peace process.