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Baroness Paisley: I had a feeling to text Martin McGuinness the day before he died and his moving visit to their Belfast home after Ian's death

'He (Martin) went in and stood over Ian’s coffin and was very moved at that time'

By Claire Williamson

Baroness Paisley has told how she sent a text to Martin McGuinness the day before he died because she had a "strange feeling".

Mr McGuinness, 66, died early on Tuesday at Derry's Altnagelvin Hospital with his family by his bedside.

Read more:

How Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley forged an unlikely friendship

Martin McGuinness death: Boy from the Bogside who ended up shaking hands with the Queen

He had suffered a short illness.  The late Ian Paisley forged an unlikely deep friendship with Mr McGuinness as they enabled the Northern Ireland peace process.

Images of the pair laughing and joking together earned them the nickname "The Chuckle Brothers".

Baroness Paisley said she had been in regular contact with Mr McGuinness and how over the years he had visited their Belfast home twice but they didn't make it to his home in the Bogside in Derry.

She told the News Letter: "We were in contact up until a couple of weeks ago. I had sent him a message and then he had replied but the last one I sent to him he didn’t reply to.

"I knew he was in intensive care so I didn’t really expect a reply, I just wanted him to get the message.

“I pray for him every day as I pray for an awful lot of people.

"I was thinking about him particularly yesterday morning (Monday). I had a strange feeling about him.

"I just sent a message to say that we’re still remembering him and his wife and family in our prayers.

“And of course then the news came through this morning (Tuesday).

“It’s very likely his mobile may have been switched off, but they know they have my sympathy.”

She told how Mr McGuinness visited their home when Mr Paisley died.

“Before Ian took ill he asked me could he come and see him. I said of course you can and he did.

"When Ian died Martin phoned me and asked if he could come to the house, which was strictly private.

“I told him he could come and I was pleased to see him at the house. He went in and stood over Ian’s coffin and was very moved at that time.”

Baroness Paisley compared the political journey of the Sinn Fein veteran to the Apostle Paul who was converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus.

She said: “God uses different means to speak to us. He knocked the Apostle Paul off his horse on the road to Damascus. He spoke to Martin Luther by sending a lightning bolt. You don’t know what God used on Martin McGuinness, but he did change.

“I do know that my husband Ian had a huge influence on him and showed him compassion when he needed it.

“When his mother died I remember we were in London and he’d phoned Martin and given him his condolences.

“He and I both spoke to him on a personal level about faith in Christ. You’ve got to leave that with people, you can’t force what they do after that.”

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