Martin McGuinness risked his life for peace, says PSNI widow Kate Carroll
Martin McGuinness "put his neck on the line" when he condemned dissidents as traitors, the widow of the first murdered PSNI officer has said.
The former IRA man took a huge step in making a public statement denouncing those behind the killing, Constable Stephen Carroll's wife Kate said.
The officer was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon in March 2009. He died of a single gunshot wound to the head as he sat in an unmarked police car while colleagues attended a 999 call in the Lismore Manor area.
The murder came just days after a Real IRA gun attack claimed the lives of English sappers Mark Quinsey (23) and Patrick Azimkar (21) at Massereene Army base in Antrim.
Mr McGuinness, speaking as Deputy First Minister at the time, received a death threat after branding the killers "traitors".
He said: "These people, they are traitors to the island of Ireland. They have betrayed the political desires, hopes and aspirations of all of the people who live on this island."
He also admitted at the time he had to "keep my nerve" in appealing to those within the Republican community to support the police to defeat the dissidents.
Following the news that Mr McGuinness was leaving frontline politics, Mrs Carroll paid tribute to someone she said had made "great efforts to bring about change". She added: "I think he put his neck on the line at that particular time to say that. People were aware that he was trying to make a change.
"It ruffled a few feathers. It clearly touched a nerve with the dissidents. That's obvious from the fact that he did receive a death threat soon after."
Mrs Carroll, who met Mr McGuinness when he visited her Banbridge home to pay his respects alongside then First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson, acknowledged not everyone would remember him in such a positive light.
She said: "I think everybody is entitled to their opinion. We all have our own mindset and we are all allowed to do our own thinking.
"All I can say is what I saw of him, and from what I saw, he was trying very, very hard to make that difference.
"I just hope that whoever takes his place will have the same mindset as him, that they will have the people's interests at heart."