Belfast Telegraph

Saying sorry to those bereaved by IRA violence would be fitting way for McGuinness to end a remarkable political journey

Editor's Viewpoint

Much has been written over these past few days about the remarkable journey Martin McGuinness made from terrorist to parliamentarian, but today we publish an equally astounding insight into the man and the once unthinkable relationship that he formed with Dr Ian Paisley.

It comes not from an acolyte of the former IRA commander but from Dr Paisley's son, Ian, a man whose political philosophy runs directly contrary to that of republicanism.

His remarks do not diminish his unionism, but rather enhance it as a political outlook which can acknowledge the legitimacy of the mandate held by political opponents.

Of course his views are coloured by the personal relationship that his father and Mr McGuinness forged, and by the fact that both men - not just one - embarked on a remarkable journey. In their different ways they went from men intent on wrecking the established political order to creating a new one which offered hope of a more inclusive Northern Ireland.

His insight into how the two men prayed together, how Mr McGuinness had asked Dr Paisley to pray for his ill mother and how he, Ian junior, had never had a cross word with the former deputy First Minister showed the power of mutual respect in forging the most unlikely of political alliances.

And his public thank you to Mr McGuinness is a demonstration of that necessary respect. But there are others who find it less easy to forgive Mr McGuinness's past and, as a newspaper which has been consistent in highlighting the unforgivable lack of movement in meeting the needs of the victims of terrorism, we can understand their continuing anger at how so many were bereaved by the IRA.

Mr McGuinness makes no apology for that campaign, but that should not preclude him for saying sorry to the bereaved for their personal and continuing anguish. It would be an appropriate punctuation mark at the end of a political life which wrought so much that was positive.

Belfast Telegraph


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