Belfast Telegraph

Presbyterian friend likens ex-IRA chief to Saint Paul

By Leona O'Neill

Londonderry Presbyterian Minister David Latimer has likened Martin McGuinness to a saint who was guided by God.

The minister from the First Derry Presbyterian Church said that on their last meeting in Altnagelvin Hospital in the city they held each other tightly and prayed. He described Mr McGuinness as "a good friend".

Mr McGuinness died last week aged 66.

Rev Latimer said: "I went to the intensive care ward of the hospital after his wife Bernie responded to a text that I had sent and I knew something was very wrong. When I went into the room we held on tightly to each other," he said. "I said to him that I was with Eileen Paisley a few days beforehand and that he was the focus of our conversation.

"I told Martin that he was a good man and that he and Ian Paisley did great things. I told him he laid a foundation to help all of us, let us see what we need to be doing to live much better.

"The last thing he said to me was that there was more work to do. Then we prayed together."

Rev Latimer added: "I see Martin as a modern day St Paul. St Paul was a terrorist.

"But when we look at the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr, the stoning party put their cloaks at the feet of St Paul. I see St Paul as the OC of the stoning party and yet God didn't see that as an obstacle in allowing St Paul to do very different things.

"People have written to me to say Martin did not repent. Martin could have went to the highest mountain in the land and said things and people still wouldn't have believed.

"Martin chose to do something more important than words, he chose to behave in a way that only leads me to believe that the hand of God was on his shoulder assisting him. Not to deviate once but to keep on going."

Rev Latimer said many will find it very hard to accept that Martin McGuinness is in Heaven. But he added: "I am confident that I will be sharing Heaven in the company of Martin."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph