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McGuinness journey was one of expediency

As the death and life of Martin McGuinness have been debated ad nauseam, my own view of Mr McGuinness is that his path from terrorist to politician was an exercise in expedience.

While a proponent of the "cutting-edge of the IRA", he was content to oversee carnage in Northern Ireland. When it became clear that the IRA murder campaign would not succeed, it became expedient to ditch it and, through a back-channel to the UK Government, the IRA declared: the war is over, help us end it.

The Belfast Agreement was a necessary evil, setting back Irish unity by generations, but it got the prisoners freed and gave Sinn Fein a place in government.

In his role of Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness did whatever he had to do for his republicanism. While some, desperate for symbolism, read much into his handshake and meetings with the Queen, I believe it meant nothing to him.

If there had been a chance of the IRA succeeding in its violent campaign, Martin McGuinness would have stayed the course. His journey was not a Damascene conversion from violence, but a journey of necessity.

Of course, expedience works both ways. After decades of fuelling the fires of sectarianism, Ian Paisley realised, in 2006, St Andrews was the last roll of the dice for him. In his fervent desire to be First Minister, expediency became the enemy of principle to satiate his ego.

I believe Ian Paisley went to his grave fundamentally unchanged in his 'No Surrender' mindset. Despite the genuine friendship, there with no real meeting of minds to show for it. And so it remains today. It is expedient for the DUP and Sinn Fein to share power - not for the greater good, but for the greater political gain.

The last great act of expedience, it seems, is to quietly forget the suffering of the families of the Disappeared for the greater good of what we call a "peace process".

In doing so, there is no hope of a long-term reconciliation anytime soon.


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