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What changed McGuinness from hawk to dove?

MARTIN McGuinness's admitted epiphany during the Troubles (News, June 2) – revealing how he arrived at the conclusion that the IRA could not defeat the British after reading academic papers stating that they could not defeat the IRA – reveals a sense of naivety in the former IRA leader.

That naivety contrasts strongly with the hard-heartedness of the leadership of the IRA and is undoubtedly a rewriting of history and an attempt to explain why Sinn Fein is so popular now.

Part of the reason for their popularity must derive from a variation of Stockholm Syndrome, where the countless victims in the Catholic community, living in fear of IRA attack, actually came to love these vicious rogues.

In May 1985, after an election, Martin McGuinness said that: "We don't believe that winning elections will win freedom in Ireland. At the end of the day, it will be the cutting edge of the IRA which will bring freedom."

He was "the hawk of all hawks", according to commentator Eamonn Mallie. Speaking in November 1986, McGuinness declared: "Our position is clear and it will never, never, never, never change. The war against British rule must continue until freedom is achieved." It's in the lap of the Gods to know what changed to render Martin McGuinness less of a hawk and more of a dove from November 1986 to spring 1987, when Sinn Fein made contact with John Hume about ending their campaign.

JOHN O'CONNELL

Derry

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