Political legacy of Martin McGuinness

 

Sir, – Clearly we in the modern world are as impressed by U-turns as the ancient world was impressed by St Paul on the road to Damascus.

The reaction to the death of Martin McGuinness suggests that someone who initially waged war and then converted to peace receives more acclaim, respect and credibility than someone who only ever waged peace.

Is the message from this that if we want our children to make their mark in politics and to be remembered as statesmen, we should advise them to first become terrorists for a number of years and then make a U-turn to democratic politics where they will gain more respect than ordinary law-abiding politicians? – Yours, etc,

LESLIE LAWLESS,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – Much of the coverage of the death of Martin McGuinness misses the core truth that he was a “peace exploiter” rather than a peacemaker. The real peacemakers, the SDLP and others, have been sidelined in a “cold peace” process dominated by the Provo-Paisleyite coalition, where each community is encouraged to support a party that will be tougher with the other side. Indeed, it is quite clear that he encouraged vicious intimidation of genuine peacemakers like John Hume and Gerry Fitt until it suited him otherwise.

Given the nature of the old unionist regime, a regime that makes any government in the history of the South look pinko-liberal by comparison, I cannot condemn any young man for joining the IRA in the North at the start of the Troubles. However, it is quite clear that Mr McGuinness and Gerry Adams, both intelligent men, knew by the mid-1970s that their “long war” would never achieve its stated aim of Irish unity. Yet they continued to encourage killing of their neighbours and they sacrificed many of their own volunteers just to maintain their political existence.

Nearly a quarter of a century after the first ceasefire, Mr McGuinness, with Mr Adams, continued to support local warlords of the IRA in the guise of “community workers” and “good republicans” and to demonstrate in other ways that democratic accountability did not apply to Sinn Féin or the IRA.

I pray, as a Christian, that Martin McGuinness has reconciled himself with God. As an Irishman, wishing for Tone’s definition of Irish unity, I know that we will never escape from the “peace process” into genuine peace until we open the blind eyes we were obliged to shut to get the process started. As long as Sinn Féin and the DUP are allowed to persist with their fake histories, Northern Ireland must remain a “failed political entity”, constantly on political life support. – Yours, etc,

LIAM MULLIGAN,

Rathmines,Dublin 6.

A chara, – Your editorial view decries Martin McGuinness’s “campaign of violence”. Would your editorial board be so kind as to enlighten us all as to what non-violent plan would have delivered the progress of the last 50 years in the Six Counties? I am sure that the ghosts of Nelson Mandela, George Washington and Ho Chi Minh would also be interested to hear how their own campaigns of violence could have been similarly avoided. Frederick Douglass wrote that “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Yours, etc,

JEREMY O’FRIEL,

New York.

Sir, – If only Martin McGuinness had listened to his fellow Derryman John Hume a little sooner, surely we would all be in an even better place in Northern Ireland today. – Yours, etc,

DAVID GRIFFIN,

Banbridge, Co Down.

Sir, – At a time when London mourns the loss of life from another terrorist attack, and many on this island mourn the death of Martin McGuinness, those killed in the Hyde Park and Canary Wharf IRA bombings (and many other such atrocities) should also be remembered; terror is terror. – Yours, etc,

CHRIS FITZPATRICK,

Terenure,

Dublin 6.

Sir, – The decision to fly the Tricolour above Leinster House at half-mast as a mark of respect for the late Martin McGuinness is a step too far. Where are the flags flying at half-mast for the lost lives of the 1,800 men, women and children killed by the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s? Certainly not above Leinster House. – Yours, etc,

PATRICK O’BYRNE,

Phibsborough, Dublin 7.

Sir, – RTÉ, which is supposed to be short of money, provided live coverage of the funeral of Martin McGuinness. I don’t recall our national broadcaster paying such tribute to other peacemakers, most notably the late Peter Barry. Not only did Sinn Féin/IRA bomb its way successfully to the peace table, but it has achieved similar success in bombing its way onto the national airwaves. – Yours, etc,

MARGARET LEE,

Newport, Co Tipperary.

Sir, – Growing up as a teenager, I, like many others from the Bogside, could never have imagined a Northern Ireland where Catholics were afforded equal representation, and a voice in the decisions, that were made about us. Martin McGuinness made this possible, and as a result, we all must be grateful for this legacy he has ensured for all of us, in both communities.

The real Martin McGuinness was also an ordinary man, devoted to his family and the people of Derry. I remember long evenings last summer when I was sat in the front garden over visiting my relatives and seeing him leaping out of his car, in his formal suit after a long day at Stormont, bounding up the steps to visit his son and grandchildren who lived next door and also the huge smile and kind words he always had, without fail, for everyone. But he was also a man who was there for his community in the Bogside, and making time for everyone, despite his gruelling work schedule in Stormont. – Yours, etc,

MAIREAD HEALY,

Derry.