Sunday 17 November 2019

In the hands of history

Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness

•Martin McGuinness's entry into the presidential race has hit a nerve like tinfoil on a filling. The political status quo has been stirred from its torpor prompting hysterical displays of helplessness not seen since Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall.

Mr McGuinness, just like Gerry Adams, has a right to get his comeuppance, and no doubt this will happen in due course when he tries to engage with the country.

In the interim, you will hear how he was part of the IRA elite that was responsible for the deaths of 1,800 people between 1969 and 1998, 630 of whom were civilians.

But the remarkable aspect of the story is that while his sworn enemies Dr Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson accepted the ex-IRA man into the very heart of government, it is the South, on whose behalf the IRA fought a war to unite with, that is proving so problematical.

Of course we did not want this war, but now that it is over what do we want of the peace?

Is the North to be an irrelevance?

The silent view is that while McGuinness may be fit for purpose in the North, he is hardly up to the task of representing our great bankrupt Republic.

The dichotomy is that while he was a key player in the peace process he also has a pedigree in terrorism. One cannot leave one's baggage at the door because it may be ticking.

This is a democracy so we either accept McGuinness's reincarnation as a peacemaker -- as did the unionists and Protestants in the North with whom he went to war -- or we do not.

His history is as dark as our country's.

The cracks and flaws in society's mirror are reflected in its leaders. When Charlie Haughey was Taoiseach, no one saw fit to question his vast unearned fortune.

And Bertie Ahern was deemed a hero of the common people.

And what of the shadows cast by the Big Fellow and the Long Fellow?

Parity of esteem, inclusivity and equality were the pillars on which the peace process was built.

Or are these also concepts that must be stopped at the Border?

D D Kinihan
Donnybrook, Dublin 4

Irish Independent

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