Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

McGuinness's widow touched by tributes to her husband as crowds flock to his grave

By Ed Carty and Leona O'Neill

The widow of Martin McGuinness has said the family have been touched by people's kindness since his death last week.

The former IRA commander, who later became Deputy First Minister, died aged 66 after suffering a rare heart condition.

US President Bill Clinton led tributes at his funeral in Londonderry last Thursday.

Bernie McGuinness said the family dbeen left heartbroken by his death.

"I and our entire family have been touched by the efforts of so many to provide solace and comfort to us throughout this very difficult period," she said.

"Martin was my husband, a father and a grandfather.

"He was a republican activist for all of his adult life.

"He was passionate about his political beliefs but also about his many other interests.

"Despite the frequency with which his political activism took him away from our home and family, he was at heart a proud family man who took great delight in the accomplishments of our children and grandchildren.

"He loved his family. And we love him. Our hearts are broken."

Mrs McGuinness also thanked people who called to the family home in the last week, held vigils or attended the funeral.

And she thanked medical staff and others who provided support.

"Words cannot express our appreciation at the outpouring of love and solidarity, which embraced us throughout Thursday," she said.

Meanwhile, Mr McGuinness's grave in the City Cemetery in Derry has become a mecca for republicans and tourists, with hundreds of people visiting to take pictures and leave floral tributes in the days since his funeral.

Mr McGuinness is buried in the republican plot of the graveyard in the shadow of the Cu Chulainn stone monument and next to other former IRA men and friends.

His grave, which is adorned with hundreds of floral tributes in the green, white and orange shades of the Irish tricolour, sits directly beside that of former IRA man Paddy Mullan, who drowned in 2003.

It is also next to the grave of Pol Kinsella, who died 'of natural causes whilst on active service' in 1994.

Mr Kinsella died of leukaemia in the Maze Prison and was buried with full IRA honours.

Yesterday cars were parked back to back along the pathway leading up to the grave and dozens of people filed past the site every hour to pay their respects in the spring sunshine.

Others took photos of themselves and their families beside it.

Tourists from Spain and France wanted to capture the moment on camera for posterity and one American tourist left a dollar bill pinned to his grave.

Siobhan from Creggan said that Mr McGuinness's grave would attract a lot of visitors.

"I was at the funeral the other day and didn't get anywhere near the grave," she said.

"I just wanted have a look and get a couple of photographs. The flowers are beautiful.

"I would say his final resting place will be of interest to many people from all over the world."

Martin from Strabane brought flowers and said Mr McGuinness's grave will become an important place to visit for republicans.

"I wanted to come and pay my respects to Martin," he said.

"I think he was one of the best republicans ever.

"I think his grave will become a rallying point for republicans, particularly when they erect a headstone.

"Hopefully his will be one of the last republican graves and that there will be some good to come out of it.

"I thought the funeral was very dignified and they did everything the right way.

"There were no trappings, no trouble and there was no volley of shots. It was good to see the back of that."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph