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Martin McGuinness can be statesmanlike by acknowledging pain of victims' families and withdrawing his name from shortlist

Editor's Viewpoint

When Martin McGuinness announced that he was retiring from front line politics there were many keen to praise his contribution to the peace process, none more so than Ian Paisley, who paid a remarkable tribute

He pointed out that there were many people alive today because of Mr McGuinness' work in persuading the IRA to end its campaign of terror and bringing republicans along with him on his purely political path. Indeed, it would be churlish not to acknowledge his work during his 10 years at Stormont, mostly as Deputy First Minster, where he attempted to reach out beyond his republican constituency to the wider community, displaying real courage at times.

But there are many who cannot forget his past as an IRA leader and the suffering caused by republicans during three decades of violence. He has never said sorry to the bereaved, nor regretted the actions of the IRA.

Little wonder, then, that people like Jane Hunter, whose soldier husband Stephen was one of five killed when the IRA forced human bomb Patsy Gillespie to drive into their checkpoint. He too was killed instantly, still shackled to the steering wheel of the vehicle.

Jane was left to bring up their three-year-old son alone, and 29 years later the pain of her bereavement and her anger at the IRA are still acute. Like so many other people bereaved by the Troubles she undoubtedly feels that their sacrifice has never been properly acknowledged.

It has to be remembered that the vast majority of the bereaved, unlike Mr McGuinness for example, never sought or wanted to be in the front line of the terror campaign. They unwittingly have been forced to make the exact reverse journey to him, from normality to a life never the same again and a pain that never ends.

Mr McGuinness made a number of statesman-like gestures during his time at Stormont. He could make another now by withdrawing his name from the shortlist for a peace prize to avoid hurting those who still don't have peace of mind.

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