McGuinness - terrorist or peacemaker?

The former Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness, has died aged 66, his party Sinn Féin has confirmed. McGuinness retired from office in January, sparking fresh elections. Obituaries for the former IRA member and later negotiator of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement take opposing views of his political trajectory.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

An impressive transition to peacemaker

His willingness to engage with former opponents made Martin McGuinness set an example for the politicians in Northern Ireland, the Irish Times comments:

“McGuinness made the transition from militant republicanism to becoming a politician of the first rank, using his position as Deputy First Minister in a power-sharing executive to promote political accommodation and dialogue over physical force in the cause of a united Ireland. ... Probably the greatest demonstration of how far his political journey had taken him was his initial handshake with Queen Elizabeth in 2012. That gesture required courage on both their parts and was an important milestone in cementing peace. ... The spirit of compromise he learned should be an example to all those engaged in the latest round of talks.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Too violent for too long

Martin McGuinness should have given up armed struggle against the British state far sooner than he did, the Daily Telegraph complains:

“He was not like, say, Nelson Mandela whose support for an armed struggle was driven by the absence of any democratic route to power or even rudimentary political expression. While in the late 1960s, Roman Catholics could say with some justification that they were frozen out of office and influence, many nationalist radicals did not respond with violence, not even after Bloody Sunday in 1972. McGuinness, however, chose to lead a murderous campaign against the British state when another, peaceful road was available. He chose, furthermore, to continue that campaign when it should have ended.”