Belfast Telegraph

I was wrong to say Martin McGuinness funeral would be provo fest: Belfast councillor McGimpsey

By Jonny Bell

Belfast city councillor Chris McGimpsey has said he was wrong to say the funeral for Martin McGuinness would become a "provo fest".

The UUP representative in a Facebook post said there was "no necessity" for his outgoing party leader Mike Nesbitt, or any other unionist,  to attend the funeral and that it would essentially be a "provo fest".

"That's what I thought it might well be," he told the BBC, "I have been proven wrong and it was a very dignified day."

He said everything was done with "great dignity" until Gerry Adams' comments at the graveside.

More: Martin McGuinness graveside oration: Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams urges republicans and unionists to stretch themselves further for reconciliation

"How can you say you want to respect your unionist neighbours and tact that [Ireland unfree shall never be at peace] on? That took away from what was a dignified day."

If we forget Martin McGuinness the IRA commander, we also forget the victims Chris McGimpsey


He added: "My point was when I put that post up it was clear the mood of the UUP was not with Mike Nesbitt. We have got to differentiate between McGuinness of the past 30 years to McGuinness of the last 10. I don't want to trample on the grave of anyone."

More: Martin McGuinness funeral: They came from far and wide... but Arlene Foster made toughest journey

Alderman McGimpsey said he would not have attended the funeral of the veteran republican which saw political leaders including former American President Bill Clinton jet in to attend.

"I certainly would not have gone," said the councillor. "I was brought up to say you don't speak ill of the dead and I would bear that in mind. Martin McGuinness the family man with the loving wife and children we all feel for them. But Martin McGuinness the IRA commander can not be forgotten.

"If we forget Martin McGuinness the IRA commander, we also forget the victims. The victims are the ones who have really been left behind in this process. If we don't find a solution that brings victims along then we will be in difficulties."

Martin McGuinness was buried today. He is survived by his wife, four children and hundreds of widows.

Posted by Chris Mcgimpsey on Thursday, March 23, 2017

Former SDLP minister Brid Rodgers said she was shocked at the comments. "Everybody has a past but in the past 15 years Martin McGuinness reached out. He did things that were difficult. It was not easy for him to shake hands with the Queen."

Belfast Alliance councillor Michael Long added: "Chris McGimpsey on Talkback having a go at Mike Nesbitt attending the funeral is just the latest example of the vision free, rudderless ship that is the UUP group at city hall.

"In my opinion, it is just a collection of whingers harking back to the past with no ideas or proposals to move the city or Northern Ireland forward."

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