Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Martin McGuinness in emotional final interview before his death

Moment he took his mum to Derry Walls and telling Blair he believed Paisley would work with Sinn Fein

By Claire Williamson

The late Martin McGuinness emotionally recalled the poignant first time he took his mother to his native Derry Walls in the last interview he gave before his death.

Sinn Fein released the never before seen recent interview in which the 66-year-old shared his thoughts, hopes and aspirations.

The Bogside native discusses a range of topics including Brexit, power-sharing and the future.

In a poignant moment he recalls the moment he visited Derry Walls with his mother Peggy - and discovered despite 60 years of living there, she had never been until she was in her 80s.

Mr McGuinness explained that the only reason it happened was because of a request from Help the Aged for a photograph of the Sinn Fein veteran and his family at the walls.

He said: "She was in Derry for over 60 years. We could step out our front door and see Derry Walls which for many decades was the bastion of unionism.

"I got a terrible shock when she told me she had never been in Derry Walls, until one day we took her up at the request of Help the Aged who wanted a photograph of myself, my children, grandchildren and my mother.

"She was in her 80s at the time and at the end of it, she said 'this is the first time I've been in Derry Walls'.

"That was psychologically the walls belonged to somebody else and I believe if the stones could speak they'd say they belong to all of us."

Mr McGuinness said he regularly walked the walls at night thinking of her.

He became emotional as he recalled how grateful he was that she was able to see him on of the most iconic and historic days of his political career.

He said: "For her to see her son involved these negotiations and become education minister and God rest her that she was able to be there on the day that Ian Paisley and myself walked down the steps of Stormont together and to be there with my wife and children, it was a great moment for her."

Mr McGuinness also recalled the moment when he told Tony Blair he believed the late Ian Paisley would enter government with Sinn Fein.

"To be involved in the Good Friday negotiations as I was, the St Andrews negotiations which brought the DUP into governemnt.

"I remember going with Gerry to Downing street and being in a sitting room with Jonathan Powell and Tony Blair. It was just after Sinn Fein and the DUP became the largest parties in the north.

"Tony Blair was at the point of despair and he started talking about it not being a good result, and how David Trimble had lost the election and his strategy was going to be to try and get David Trimble back into pole position.

"It was about 7 minutes into talking and I said 'that's not going to happen. My opinion is the DUP is going to be the largest party within unionism for the foreseeable future. We've to get the DUP into government.

"I remember his words 'but sure Martin, Ian Paisley will never share power with Sinn Fein'. And I said 'I don't accept that' and said 'if we work at this and are smart with how we deal with this I believe we can bring about circumstances which will see that happen."

Mr McGuinness speaks of his hopes for the future generations.

He said: "All of us in political life have a duty and responsibility to stand up for people that feel discriminated against.

"We in Sinn Fein Feel very passionately, but it doesn't work because of the nature of our institutions unless we are able to forge  agreements and that means people crossing rubicons.

"And recognise that their responsibility isn't just to the unionists or loyalists of the north, but to everybody.

"Just as I feel my responsibilities  very dearly to the republicans, nationalists, the unionists, the loyalists, the ethnic minorities, the LGBT community and the Irish language activitists..

He added: "I do accept there were many people who were probably agitated that I didn't move quicker but I'm a patient man, I've been around negotiations for a very long time and I thought I had a duty a responsibility that I was trying my best to make the process work."

Mr McGuinness when asked what his hopes are for his grandchildren says "we have to get things right in the north and between north and south".

He said: "The British government need to grow up and smell the coffee in relation to the relationships that exist.

"You can't make a contribution by curtailing to attitudes that are about discriminating about people.

"I would like to see them living in a free, united Ireland it's imminently possible that we can achieve that.

He added: "I want to see all of our children, including unionists and loyalists in the Shankill road grow up in a country that is respectful of them and prepared to develop an economy and prosperity for them in the way that sees politicians who have a responsibility and have control of their own affairs.

"I don't see how we can ever do that, what I consider to be a very backward looking British government."

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