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Martin McGuinness gave huge support when we lost Michaela, says Mickey Harte

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte has paid tribute to the political bridge-building legacy of former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, revealing that he was a huge support to his family at the time of his daughter's murder.

Michaela McAreavey was murdered on honeymoon in Mauritius in January 2011.

Mr Harte told the Belfast Telegraph: "I want to pass on my condolences to his entire family.

"Because Martin was very solid behind us when we lost Michaela and very supportive of the Michaela Foundation, and came to our fifth year celebrations there when we had it in the City Hall in Belfast."

Echoing some of the tributes paid to McGuinness, Harte continued: "I think he was a very warm man. As people have said, he had a warm disposition to him and he had a great capacity to be good company. What more could you ask of a man?

"I would just like to say that he has been very supportive of us and our prayers go out to his family."

Mr Harte was speaking at the launch of the KN Group's All-Ireland GAA Golf Classic, where the Michaela Foundation will be a charitable beneficiary,

Mr Harte holds up Mr McGuinness's journey from an unapologetic paramilitary to his tenure as Deputy First Minister, where he held warm relationships with both Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson, as greatly encouraging.

He added: "If you want to look for an example in this part of the world that we live in, if you take the fact of Ian Paisley, coming from where he was coming from and Martin McGuinness coming from where he was coming from, and that they could be good company with each other.

"What more do we need as an example of what is possible in this part of the world?"

"As the Gospel tells us, it's easy to like your friends, it's easy to be with your friends. The challenge is to love your enemies and people who were enemies in the past, like those two men I have mentioned, came together and were really friends.

"They just didn't come together and make a working relationship. It was an adaptable working relationship. That to me was more worthy of respect than anything else that maybe those two men done."

Mr Harte added: "They were on different paths and whatever side you come from you would identify with some of the things of the past of both of those men.

"But, together they came together and made something special. Not just because they had a working relationship, but they made a really comfortable relationship. I think that is a great lesson for all of us.

"People can come from two extremes and make that happen, we should all learn from that."

Meanwhile, the Derry GAA county board also released a statement.

"Derry GAA would like to express its deepest sympathy to the family of Martin McGuinness R.I.P. on what is a sad day for Derry and a sad day for Ireland," it said.

"Brother of our former senior footballer, Tom McGuinness, Martin was a supporter and true friend of Derry GAA, who rarely missed a game at Celtic Park.

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