Belfast Telegraph

Martin McGuinness IRA volunteer headstone inscription angers unionists

Newly erected gravestone of Martin McGuinness
Newly erected gravestone of Martin McGuinness
Newly erected gravestone of Martin McGuinness
Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney, Mary Lou McDonald and Elisha McCallion at the unveiling of the headstone
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Unionists reacted with anger yesterday after republicans unveiled Former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness's gravestone with an inscription referring to his IRA past.

The dedication on Mr McGuinness's Celtic cross gravestone reads 'Oglach Martin McGuinness, Oglaigh na h-Eireann, MP, MLA, Minister'.

Oglach is the term used by the IRA to describe its volunteers.

Mr McGuinness was described as "one of the greatest republican leaders Ireland has ever seen" as the memorial was unveiled by Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, as well as Foyle MLAs Raymond McCartney and Elisha McCallion.

Mr McGuinness's sons Emmett and Fiachra and daughters Fionnuala and Grainne were present at the ceremony, which took place at the Sinn Fein Easter commemoration in Derry City Cemetery.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said those who believed Mr McGuinness had "undergone a transformation" had been "duped" and that his headstone reflected that he "hadn't moved on from his IRA past".

"I am not surprised. Martin McGuinness may well have become a statesman, he may well have become a politician in the eyes of many, but the reality was that he was, until the day he died, an IRA volunteer," he said.

"What they have put on his headstone trumps everything that people think about this man. Martin McGuinness didn't move on from his IRA background, he remained linked to the IRA until the day he died and the headstone clearly reflects that past.

"He was an IRA man and he is being remembered as an IRA man. Anybody who bought into his transformation from gunman to so-called statesman has been duped in some way.

"What is on his headstone is exactly what I would expect to see on his headstone.

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
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 after he died aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Michelle O'Neill, stand over the coffin of former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness as it is carried to his home in Londonderry after he died aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffin of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness is placed on a stand as it is carried to his home in Londonderry after he died aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Message placed on the wall of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast, from Gerry Adams after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The wife of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, Bernie (R), helps to carry the coffin of her late husband in procession 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 Ire;and Leader, Michelle O'Neill (L) adjusts an Irish flag on the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness watched by his wife Bernadette McGuinness (C) on March 21, 2017 in Derry (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams (R) and Sinn Fein Northern Leader, Michelle O'Neill (L) comfort a mourner as they await the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness on March 21, 2017 in Derry (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams (R) and Sinn Fein Northern Ireland leader, Michelle O'Neill (L) carry the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness past Free Derry corner on March 21, 2017 in Derry, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
An Irish Flag flys at half mast in the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry on March 21, 2017 as a mark of respect after the death of former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. AFP/Getty Images
Bernadette McGuinness (R) carries the coffin of her late husband Martin McGuinness on March 21, 2017 in Derry, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Well wishers carry the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness past the murals at Free Derry corner on March 21, 2017 in Derry, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Well wishers carry the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness past the murals at Free Derry corner on March 21, 2017 in Derry, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Well wishers carry the coffin of the late Martin McGuinness past the murals at Free Derry corner on March 21, 2017 in Derry, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The sons of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness , Fiachra (left) and Emmet, carry his coffin to his home in Derry 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 after he died aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Martin's wife Bernie pictured during her husband's removal. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Martin's wife Bernie pictured during her husband's removal. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Martin's wife Bernie pictured during her husband's removal. Photo by Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye.
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Presseye Stephen Hamilton
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Sinn Feins president Gerry Adams Presseye
Mourners pictured at the removal of Sinn Feins Martin McGuinness to his home in the Bog side. Sinn Feins president Gerry Adams
The sons of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness , Fiachra (left) and Emmet, carry his coffin to his home in Londonderry after he died aged 66. 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 after he died aged 66. 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 his wife Bernie McGuinness (front right) after he died aged 66. 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 after he died aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and Michelle O'Neill, stand over the coffin of former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness as it is carried to his home in Londonderry after he died aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffin of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness is placed on a stand as it is carried to his home in Londonderry after he died aged 66. 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 after he died aged 66. 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 after he died aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
A flag flies at half mast in the bogside area of Londonderry after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A flag flies at half mast in the bogside area of Londonderry after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
A Derry Country GAA flag flies at half mast in the bogside area of Londonderry after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
A passerby stops at the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast to read a message from Gerry Adams after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Constituency staff of Belfast West MLA Alex Maskey tie lilies to the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast, after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Constituency staff of Belfast West MLA Alex Maskey tie lilies to the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast, after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Constituency staff of Belfast West MLA Alex Maskey placing a message from Gerry Adams to the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast, after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Constituency staff of Belfast West MLA Alex Maskey tie lilies to the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast, after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Lilies left in remembrance to Martin McGuinness at the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast, after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A passer by stops at the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast to read a message from Gerry Adams after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
William Cosgrove signs the book of condolence in remembrance to Martin McGuinness at Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast, after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A floral tribute left at the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast following the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A woman carries a child past a Republican mural in the Bogside neighbourhood of Derry in Northern Ireland on March 21, 2017 near the home of former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, whose death was announced this morning. Martin McGuinness, a one-time Irish Republican Army commander who later helped negotiate an end to the conflict in Northern Ireland, has died aged 66. His Sinn Fein party, which opposes British rule in Northern Ireland and was long considered the political arm of the IRA, announced the death in a statement on March 21, 2017, expressing "deep regret". / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Murals in the bogside area of Londonderry after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
A general view of the bogside area of Londonderry after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Niall Carson/PA Wire
A black flag and the national flag of Ireland referred to as the Irish tricolour, fly at half mast at Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast following the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A black flag and the national flag of Ireland referred to as the Irish tricolour, fly at half mast at Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast following the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday March 21, 2017. Mr McGuinness stood down in January in protest at the DUP's handling of the 'cash for ash' energy scandal, triggering a snap election. See PA story DEATH McGuinness. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Floral tributes left at the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast following the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
A woman leaves flowers at the gates of Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast after the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Sinn Fein for Belfast City Council Emma Groves signs the book of condolence at Connolly House, Andersonstown, Belfast, following the death of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness aged 66. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

"People who have lost loved ones to the IRA will see what I see, that he was a member of a terrorist organisation and he supported them until the day he died."

Mr McGuinness passed away on March 21. He was 66.

He had been suffering from a rare heart condition.

In the wake of his death controversy has resurfaced over his IRA past.

East Londonderry DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the inscription on Mr McGuinness's headstone was "lauding his murderous past" and a "permanent insult to the victims of IRA violence".

"Given the lengths that people went to at the actual funeral to try and elevate Martin McGuinness and try to allot him the status of a statesman, I think that most people will now see what the real and lasting tribute really is," he said.

"What happened at the funeral was just a day and a moment in time, the headstone is something that will be there for generations."

Speaking yesterday, Ms McDonald paid tribute to Mr McGuinness. "Our great leader and friend lies here now," she said.

"Martin McGuinness, whose heart came alive and kept faith with the Bogside.

"Martin McGuinness, a faithful son of Ireland. Martin McGuinness who fought, who made peace and who will never be forgotten. Martin led from the front, he took risks for freedom and risks to build the peace.

"We are stronger because of him, braver because of him, closer to reconciliation and freedom."

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