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Martin McGuinness funeral: Applause for Arlene Foster as she takes her seat in St Columba's Church

 

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Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster shake hands at the funeral of Martin McGuinness. Pic BBC

Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster shake hands at the funeral of Martin McGuinness. Pic BBC

Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster shake hands at the funeral of Martin McGuinness. Pic BBC

On a day when applause rang around Derry again and again, one occasion stood out.

As Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster walked to her seat inside St Columba's Long Tower church, mourners clapped in a spontaneous gesture of appreciation.

In many places, a politician attending the funeral of a ministerial colleague with whom she sat in coalition government for a decade would be expected, rather than newsworthy.

Not in Northern Ireland.

During the Troubles, and even in the fledgling years of the peace process, it would have been unthinkable for the leader of the main unionist party to pay respects to an unrepentant former IRA commander.

In Mrs Foster's case, the symbolism of her attendance at Martin McGuinness's funeral was all the more powerful, given her own past.

Her late father survived an IRA murder bid, despite being shot in the head at close range, and she herself was caught up in an attack by the Provisionals when a bomb exploded on her school bus.

The DUP leader took some time to consider whether attending was the right thing to do. Her party sought assurances there would be no IRA trappings - assurances that were duly received.

Her decision was always going to anger some - a number of victims of IRA violence have condemned it. But other IRA victims had urged her to attend and, if she had not, criticism would also have come her way, arguably much more of it.

President Clinton singled her out as he began his eulogy to Mr McGuinness.

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Funeral of former Sinn Fein leader and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in Derry. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press

Funeral of former Sinn Fein leader and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in Derry. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press

The Funeral of former Sinn Fein leader and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in Derry this afternoon. Pictured is Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill. Image: Pacemaker

The Funeral of former Sinn Fein leader and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in Derry this afternoon. Pictured is Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill. Image: Pacemaker

Funeral of former Sinn Fein leader and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in Derry. Pictured is Gerry Adams. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press

Funeral of former Sinn Fein leader and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in Derry. Pictured is Gerry Adams. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press

Bernie Mcguinness stands by the graveside of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, following his funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Bernie Mcguinness stands by the graveside of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, following his funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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(left to right) Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald huddle at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PA

(left to right) Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald huddle at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PA

PA

The coffin of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is carried through the Bogside area of Derry, for burial at the City Cemetery of Derry on March 23, 2017. 

Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

The coffin of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is carried through the Bogside area of Derry, for burial at the City Cemetery of Derry on March 23, 2017. Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

The coffin of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is carried through the Bogside area of Derry, for burial at the City Cemetery of Derry on March 23, 2017. 

Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

The coffin of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is carried through the Bogside area of Derry, for burial at the City Cemetery of Derry on March 23, 2017. Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Gerry Adams steps up to speak at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gerry Adams steps up to speak at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster shake hands at the funeral of Martin McGuinness. Pic BBC

Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster shake hands at the funeral of Martin McGuinness. Pic BBC

(left to right) Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald speak at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

(left to right) Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald speak at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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Gerry Adams steps up to speak at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Gerry Adams steps up to speak at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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Funeral of former Sinn Fein leader and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in Derry this afternoon. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press

Funeral of former Sinn Fein leader and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in Derry this afternoon. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press

(left to right) Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald speak at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

(left to right) Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald speak at Derry City Cemetery, in Londonderry, after the funeral service of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23:   Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and  Northern Ireland Leader, Michelle O'Neill lead mourners as the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness is carried to Derry City Cemetery on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland Leader, Michelle O'Neill lead mourners as the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness is carried to Derry City Cemetery on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23:  Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland Leader, Michelle O'Neill (R) lead mourners as the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness is carried to Derry City Cemetery on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland Leader, Michelle O'Neill (R) lead mourners as the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness is carried to Derry City Cemetery on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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PABEST

Gerry Adams carries the coffin during the funeral procession of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Thomas McMullan/PA Wire

PABEST Gerry Adams carries the coffin during the funeral procession of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Thomas McMullan/PA Wire

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LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23:  Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and  Northern Ireland Leader, Michelle O'Neill look on after the funeral service at St Columba's Church on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Northern Ireland Leader, Michelle O'Neill look on after the funeral service at St Columba's Church on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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Former US President Bill Clinton hugs Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams during the funeral of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, in St Columba's Church Long Tower in Derry, Northern Ireland on March 23, 2017.
Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Niall CarsonNIALL CARSON/AFP/Getty Images

Former US President Bill Clinton hugs Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams during the funeral of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, in St Columba's Church Long Tower in Derry, Northern Ireland on March 23, 2017. Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Niall CarsonNIALL CARSON/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

The son of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Emmet McGuinness (centre left) helps to carry the coffin of his father on it's way for burial at the City Cemetery of Derry on March 23, 2017. 

Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

The son of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Emmet McGuinness (centre left) helps to carry the coffin of his father on it's way for burial at the City Cemetery of Derry on March 23, 2017. Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

The coffin of the late Martin McGuinness is carried as the funeral cortege passes through the streets of Derry on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The coffin of the late Martin McGuinness is carried as the funeral cortege passes through the streets of Derry on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

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Former US President Bill Clinton speaks during the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Former US President Bill Clinton speaks during the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Former US President Bill Clinton speaks during the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Former US President Bill Clinton speaks during the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. : Niall Carson/PA Wire

The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. : Niall Carson/PA Wire

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The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

The funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness takes place at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Bill Clinton pays his own touching tribute to Martin McGuinness. Pic BBC

Bill Clinton pays his own touching tribute to Martin McGuinness. Pic BBC

Martin McGuinness arrives at Long Tower Church

Martin McGuinness arrives at Long Tower Church

Martin McGuinness's wife Bernadette (Bernie) is comforted ahead of the funeral of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, outside his home in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland on March 23, 2017.
Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

Martin McGuinness's wife Bernadette (Bernie) is comforted ahead of the funeral of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, outside his home in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland on March 23, 2017. Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Former US President Bill Clinton (centre) and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (left) arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Former US President Bill Clinton (centre) and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (left) arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Arlene Foster and Bishop John McKeown arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Arlene Foster and Bishop John McKeown arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill (left) Mary Lou McDonald (middle) and Gerry Adams (right) during the funeral procession of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Thomas McMullan/PA Wire

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill (left) Mary Lou McDonald (middle) and Gerry Adams (right) during the funeral procession of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Thomas McMullan/PA Wire

PA

The funeral procession arrives with the coffin at St Columba's Church Long Tower for the funeral of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in Derry, Northern Ireland on March 23, 2017.
Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

The funeral procession arrives with the coffin at St Columba's Church Long Tower for the funeral of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in Derry, Northern Ireland on March 23, 2017. Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill carries the coffin during the funeral procession of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Thomas McMullan/PA Wire

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill carries the coffin during the funeral procession of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 23, 2017. See PA story FUNERAL McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Thomas McMullan/PA Wire

PA

Gerry Adams carries the coffin during the funeral procession of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Thomas McMullan/PA Wire

Gerry Adams carries the coffin during the funeral procession of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Thomas McMullan/PA Wire

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John Hume and wife Pat.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

John Hume and wife Pat. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Gerry Adams (centre right) and Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill (centre left) arrive at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry, where the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness is being held. : Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Gerry Adams (centre right) and Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill (centre left) arrive at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry, where the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness is being held. : Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23:  The coffin of the late Martin McGuinness arrives at St Columba's Church on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: The coffin of the late Martin McGuinness arrives at St Columba's Church on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23:  (L-R) Sinn Fein Southern leader Mary Lou McDonald, Northern Ireland Leader, Michelle O'Neill and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams arrive at St Columba's Church on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: (L-R) Sinn Fein Southern leader Mary Lou McDonald, Northern Ireland Leader, Michelle O'Neill and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams arrive at St Columba's Church on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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Former US President Bill Clinton (left) and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Former US President Bill Clinton (left) and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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The funeral procession arrives with the coffin at St Columba's Church Long Tower for the funeral of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in Derry, Northern Ireland on March 23, 2017.
Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

The funeral procession arrives with the coffin at St Columba's Church Long Tower for the funeral of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in Derry, Northern Ireland on March 23, 2017. Former Irish Republican Army commander turned peace negotiator Martin McGuinness divided opinion both in life and in death but on Thursday his supporters gave him the funeral of an Irish chieftain. / AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23:  Mourners gather outside of St Columba's Church on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Mourners gather outside of St Columba's Church on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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The coffin of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness is carried down Westland Street into the Bogside ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.

The coffin of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness is carried down Westland Street into the Bogside ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.

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The coffin of Martin McGuinness is carried past the Brandywell area of Londonderry ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in the city.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

The coffin of Martin McGuinness is carried past the Brandywell area of Londonderry ahead of his funeral at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in the city. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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The funeral cortege of Martin McGuinness passes through the streets of Derry on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry.

The funeral cortege of Martin McGuinness passes through the streets of Derry on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry.

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The funeral of Martin McGuinness takes place in Derry, March 23, 2017

The funeral of Martin McGuinness takes place in Derry, March 23, 2017

LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23:  Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams hugs a mourner outside Martin McGuinness' house on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

LONDONDERRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams hugs a mourner outside Martin McGuinness' house on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

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Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen (centre) arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen (centre) arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny (centre) arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Taoiseach Enda Kenny (centre) arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) John Delaney arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) John Delaney arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton (centre) arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton (centre) arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Alastair Campbell arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Alastair Campbell arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Alex Salmond arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. : Niall Carson/PA Wire

Alex Salmond arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. : Niall Carson/PA Wire

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(From the left) Ireland Funds John Fitzpatrick, SDLP MP Mark Durkan and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

(From the left) Ireland Funds John Fitzpatrick, SDLP MP Mark Durkan and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower, in Londonderry. Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Mourners hold a banner for the late Martin McGuinness as they make their way to the funeral on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Mourners hold a banner for the late Martin McGuinness as they make their way to the funeral on March 23, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The funeral is held for Northern Ireland's former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who died on Monday 20th March 2017. He was once chief of staff of the IRA but later became Sinn Fein's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the Good Friday agreement bringing peace to Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

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Crowds gather outside the home of Martin McGuinness ahead of his funeral.

Crowds gather outside the home of Martin McGuinness ahead of his funeral.

Bill Clinton sets off from Dublin Airport for Derry, and the funeral of Martin McGuinness

Bill Clinton sets off from Dublin Airport for Derry, and the funeral of Martin McGuinness

Mourners gather at the home of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside area of Derry on March 22, 2017.

Mourners gather at the home of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside area of Derry on March 22, 2017.

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A sign directing mourners to the wake of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is pictured in the Bogside area of Derry.

A sign directing mourners to the wake of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is pictured in the Bogside area of Derry.

AFP/Getty Images

A Republican mural in the Bogside area of Derry

A Republican mural in the Bogside area of Derry

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A man walks past a Republican mural in the Bogside area of Derry on March 22, 2017.

A man walks past a Republican mural in the Bogside area of Derry on March 22, 2017.

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 A man paints the 'Free Derry' corner wall in the Bogside ahead of the Funeral of Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A man paints the 'Free Derry' corner wall in the Bogside ahead of the Funeral of Martin McGuinness. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A long line of mourners queue to pay ther respects at the home of Martin McGuinness on March 22, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

A long line of mourners queue to pay ther respects at the home of Martin McGuinness on March 22, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

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The coffin of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness is carried to his home in Londonderry by Gerry Adams and Michelle O'Neill after he died aged 66. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The coffin of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness is carried to his home in Londonderry by Gerry Adams and Michelle O'Neill after he died aged 66. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams (R) and Northern Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill (L) lay the Irish flag on the coffin of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness before it is processed through the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry to his family home on March 21, 2017. AFP/Getty Images

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams (R) and Northern Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill (L) lay the Irish flag on the coffin of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness before it is processed through the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry to his family home on March 21, 2017. AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

Funeral of former Sinn Fein leader and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the Bogside in Derry. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press

"I want to say a special word of appreciation to first minister Foster for being here because I know and most people in this church know that your life has been marked in painful ways by the Troubles," he said.

"And I believe the only way a lasting peace can ever take hold and endure is if those who have legitimate griefs on both sides embrace the future together."

Mrs Foster was joined at the service by former first minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson.

Like her, he had also shared the Stormont executive's top office with deputy first minister McGuinness.

Writing about his one-time foe this week, Mr Robinson said their relationship actually went deeper than most friendships.

Mrs Foster had become somewhat of a bete noire for the republican movement during the recent Stormont election. Her description of Sinn Fein as "crocodiles" angered and energised the party's base in equal measure, and many republicans attributed their good showing at the polls to the "Arlene factor".

Whether Thursday's events in the north west will have any impact on that narrative remains to be seen. She will resume negotiations with Sinn Fein in Belfast on Friday with only days left to form a new powersharing executive before Monday's statutory deadline.

Hopes of a deal remain slim. However, similarly bleak prognoses have been confounded ahead of previous historic agreements in Northern Ireland.

As the funeral came to a close there were two more moments of significance.

Gerry Adams and Mr Robinson reached across the aisle of St Columba's chapel to shake hands.

Behind them a further handshake, this time between the next generation of political leaders north of the border, as Mrs Foster and Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill stretched over to exchange greetings.

A service that started with a gesture of appreciation at the DUP leader's attendance, had ended with another.

Belfast Telegraph