Belfast Telegraph

McGuinness proves he's a worthy leader

It is easy to see why Martin McGuinness cuts an impressive figure as Deputy First Minister.

He has a knack of saying the right thing at the right time, of giving leadership when it is required. The most obvious example was when he branded the dissident republicans who killed PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll in March last year traitors. That was the most stinging rebuke that could be delivered by one republican to another.

And yesterday he set the correct mood music again by condemning the dissidents who forced a taxi driver in Londonderry to drive to a police station with a bomb in his vehicle. The Deputy First Minister delivered a no-nonsense message to the dissidents, saying that their violence will not undermine the peace process nor spoil his relationship with First Minister Peter Robinson.

That is the sort of leadership that is required when dissident elements ratchet up their violence. Die-hard republicans and die-hard unionists may find it impossible to accept that a one time senior IRA leader is now a leading member of the power-sharing government of Northern Ireland, but that is the hand that history has dealt the province and Mr McGuinness is playing his role adeptly. That is widely recognised in the community at large. In November last year a poll in this newspaper showed he was regarded, by some margin, as the most effective minister in the local administration.

One thing that marks him out from his contemporaries in republican circles is that he is as open as can be expected about his former life as a terrorist. Yesterday he took part along with loyalist leaders in a debate, organised by this newspaper's security correspondent, Brian Rowan, on how conflict was brought to a peaceful conclusion. While it is important to keep looking forward, we should also remember how conflict resolution took hold and the lessons learned from the Troubles. There has been a wondrous evolution of politics in this province and sometimes it is important just to admire the process.


From Belfast Telegraph