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New documentary to examine the divisive legacy of Martin McGuinness


Life story: Martin McGuinness pictured in 1995

Life story: Martin McGuinness pictured in 1995

Life story: Martin McGuinness pictured in 1995

A new documentary charting the life of Martin McGuinness from his days as an IRA commander to peacemaker and politician will be broadcast next week.

Featuring contributions from Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Ian Paisley Jr, as well as victims of IRA violence, the TG4 programme produced and directed by Sonia Nic Giolla Easbuig examines a legacy that still sharply divides opinion.

Tracing an "eventful and unique life of an Irish Revolutionary" the feature follows his early days as an IRA leader in the Bogside to being a key player in the peace process, hearing testimonies from friends, foes and colleagues.

The interviews include those who knew him from youth like Nell McCafferty and Terry Crossan, who recount stories of living in Derry during the 1960s and '70s. His colleagues from Sinn Fein recount day-to-day encounters with him and how he steered Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland towards a peace deal.

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was killed in the Birmingham bombings, revisits her memories and maintains that she can never forgive Martin McGuinness no matter what path he later chose.

Brid Rodgers, a founding member of the SDLP, recounts the story of IRA victim Patsy Gillespie which followed McGuinness throughout his life.

A Catholic who worked in an Army base in 1990, he was labelled a collaborator by the IRA and forced to drive a van containing 1,000lbs of explosives to an Army checkpoint which detonated, killing him and five soldiers while his family was held hostage.

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McGuinness was a senior IRA commander in Derry at the time, and many alleged the attack could not have happened without his knowledge.

Colin Parry also tells the harrowing story of losing his son from a bomb in Warrington town centre and how he made the decision to come together with Martin McGuinness for the sake of peace.

Journalist Peter Taylor recalls being told by the former SDLP leader John Hume in the early 1970s that McGuinness was someone to watch.

Jonathan Powell, a former Labour Party negotiator, said McGuinness had a unique ability to get people to engage and fight his side.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said he believed McGuinness had a strong sense of duty towards all the people of Ireland, while David Trimble and Ian Paisley Jr said that although unionists mistrusted him they realised the path to peace lay in partnership.

President Bill Clinton remarked on his ability to gain people's trust and said "He could talk an owl out of the tree".

For the first time, McGuinness' elder brother Tom tells the life of a family of six growing up in the Bogside of Derry.

Describing him as the younger brother who loved football and gaelic, he said he didn't do well in school but graduated from "University College Bogside" and became Northern Ireland's minister of education.

Also included in the documentary is the last ever interview filmed with McGuinness.

The documentary will be broadcast on Wednesday at 9.30pm on TG4 and can also be viewed online on tg4.ie.

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