Belfast Telegraph

9/11 victim was 'friend of Ireland'

The 9/11 attacks in New York claimed the life of a valued supporter of Ireland's peace process, Martin McGuinness has said.

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the twin towers, he told delegates at his party conference in Belfast that the loss of life had an international impact.

The Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister used his Ard Fheis speech to mark the tragedy, as the United States prepared to commemorate its anniversary.

Mr McGuinness recalled how he learned of the 9/11 hijackings while holding a private meeting with party president Gerry Adams and then Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

"Both myself and Gerry Adams had travelled to New York on many occasions and our first thoughts were of concern for our many friends in that fine city," he said.

"The Irish diaspora in New York have been long time supporters of Irish freedom and our party has many, many supporters in that city and indeed throughout the United States.

"As it turned out a great friend of Ireland - and a visitor here on many occasions, the New York Fire department chaplain Fr Mychal Judge - christened Robert Emmett - perished in the twin towers on that day alongside so many others. He too was a frequent visitor to Belfast."

Mr McGuinness described him as a "great friend of the peace process".

"The loss of Fr Judge was something that impacted on us very personally indeed," he said.

"And it is important that as we set about completing the task of uniting Ireland - of building a New Republic - that we are conscious of the important role Irish people across the world will play in that."

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