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Will successors also be able to see politics as art of the possible?

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Great charm: Martin McGuinness. Photo: Collins Dublin

Great charm: Martin McGuinness. Photo: Collins Dublin

Collins Dublin,

Great charm: Martin McGuinness. Photo: Collins Dublin

In an article in yesterday's 'Belfast Telegraph', Peter Robinson, former first minister of Northern Ireland, wrote that his relationship with Martin McGuinness "was probably more robust and enduring than most friendships and certainly closer, more complicated and formidable than many".

Mr Robinson said he was "absolutely certain he (Mr McGuinness) had reached a place in his life where he wanted to ensure there would be no reversion to the days of violence and I am equally persuaded that he was genuinely seeking reconciliation and progress in our community. In my view, no other republican could have performed the role he did during this transition".

This is certainly a remarkable tribute to the former deputy first minister from the former first minister. Mr McGuinness's ability to win the trust, and even the friendship, of Ian Paisley and Mr Robinson is a testament to his charm and to his personal integrity as a politician.

Mr McGuinness's life demonstrates that politics is still the art of the possible. I think the same can also be said for Mr Paisley and Mr Robinson.

The big question now is will we be able to say the same in respect of their successors, Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill, as leaders of the North's two main political parties? All people of good will, from whatever background, will pray that the answer to this question is in the affirmative and that politics really can be made to work to heal the wounds of a divided society.

John Glennon

Hollywood, Co Wicklow

McGuinness deserves no credit

Since Martin McGuinness, through his membership of a terrorist organisation, contributed to the destruction of peace in Northern Ireland, he is hardly entitled to any credit for the peace agreement of 1998. It's like praising a person for building a wall that he knocked down in the first place.

Up to the point of the 1998 agreement, the SDLP was the leading voice for Catholics in Northern Ireland and each member of that party was free to resort to terrorism to achieve their aims if they so wished. Instead, they choose the path of peace and democracy, so why did Mr McGuinness not do the same?

The answer to that is that the terrorists had a different agenda, which was to satisfy personal hatreds they had developed from their knowledge of Irish history. The terrorists never once claimed that their murderous campaign was for the purpose of achieving civil rights. So the bomb and the bullet was rolled out to "get even" with Britain for events in Irish history going back over hundreds of years.

Their agenda was death and destruction, not civil rights. The agreement of 1998 would have been achieved many years earlier but for the terrorist campaign of which Mr McGuinness was a willing and leading participant. He deserves no credit for peace whatsoever and to lower the national flag over Leinster House during his funeral is an appalling insult to the victims of terrorism.

Frank O'Connor

Blarney, Co Cork

Sullying the nation's dignity

In response to the ever tiresome Ian O'Doherty (Irish Independent, March 21), I would just like to point out that he really has no authority to delegitimise the Irish nation in such predictably grubby terms.

As Charles Stewart Parnell said: "No man has the right to fix the boundary to the march of a nation...we have never attempted to fix the 'ne plus ultra' to the progress of Ireland's nationhood, and we never shall."

Could I ask that Mr O'Doherty please refrain from sullying the dignity of Ireland with his glib crassness and pathetic venality? It is an embarrassment to the national discussion.

The integrity of the Irish nation is one of spiritual concern, and thus beyond his remit.

On a sad time of the passing of an Irishman of true worth, Martin McGuinness, may I extol Éireann, go brách!

Kev O Faolain

An Tulach Mhór, Uíbh Fáilí

Save our sick before the curlew

I see the State is set to spend €100,000 in the first phase to save curlew birds (Irish Independent, March 20). I would think humans are more important. There are sick people lying on, or falling off, trolleys in our hospitals.

Think of all the lives that money could save if it was invested in the health service - with extra beds, and buses to transport cancer patients who need treatment and can't afford to travel.

It could also go a long way to house the homeless if it was in the right hands, and not controlled by bureaucrats or consultants.

Mary Devane Wilson

Dingle, Co Kerry

How can RTÉ sell State land?

I am puzzled. RTÉ, a semi-State company subsidised by the taxpayer and TV licence-payers, and with the advantage of also having a commercial income, is going to sell a parcel of land for €75m. Is it RTÉ's to sell? Is it not the State's via that old fool, the taxpayer?

What next? The local Garda station sells the field at the rear of the station? The local social welfare office selling the upper floor to vulture funds? How much could be saved by reducing the fees paid to RTÉ's 'stars'? The 10 highest-paid stars were between them paid around €2.6m in 2014, the latest figures available. Sell them, not the land. RTÉ shouldn't own the land.

John Cuffe

Co Meath

Ban damages women's rights

I was very surprised to learn that the European Court of Justice (ECJ)has ruled that employers are now entitled to ban their employees from wearing visible religious symbols. This includes the hijab, the head covering that Muslim women like me wear as a representation of our faith. The court gave this judgment in response to the cases of two Muslim women who were fired for refusing to remove their headscarves.

A ban on religious symbols affects the many working women who follow Islam and choose to dress in accordance with religious teachings. By stating that women like me have to remove our headscarves to be eligible to work, the implication is that we do not have the right to make individual decisions about our bodies and that our right to choose what to wear in accordance with our religion does not empower us.

Not only does this mindset damage the tenets of basic religious freedom, it also takes away fundamental rights of women to make decisions regarding their physical autonomy.

Shumaila Ahmad

Washington DC, USA

Irish Independent