Bill Clinton expected to attend funeral of Martin McGuinness
Thousands expected in Derry for farewell to former deputy first minister
Former US president Bill Clinton is expected to be among the thousands of people attending the funeral in Derry on Thursday of former Sinn Féin deputy first minister Martin McGuinness.
There was no confirmation, but some expectation, that DUP leader Arlene Foster would join mourners for the funeral, notwithstanding that a row between her and Mr McGuinness over the botched Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme triggered the recent Assembly elections.
Ms Foster, according to senior DUP sources, was anxious to travel to the funeral, but the party was holding off on confirming her attendance because of concern over whether there might be IRA paramilitary trappings at it.
Catholic Church and Sinn Féin sources, however, indicated that apart from a Tricolour-draped coffin there would be no such paramilitary display at the funeral Mass at St Columba’s Church, Long Tower, Derry.
A Church source also said Sinn Féin had given assurances there would be no heavy paramilitary exhibition at the City Cemetery where Mr McGuinness will be buried. He died last Tuesday aged 66 from a rare heart illness.
At a special sitting of the Assembly on Wednesday Ms Foster was generous in her comments about Mr McGuinness, while also abhorring his IRA past.
Most speakers in the Assembly remembered Mr McGuinness’s IRA past and recalled the suffering of victims of the IRA campaign. However, they also honoured his role in the peace process.
A source confirmed that among the dignitaries attending the funeral will be Mr Clinton, who formed a close bond with Mr McGuinness in the period before and after the Belfast Agreement of 1998.
President Michael D Higgins is also attending, as is Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and former president Mary McAleese and husband Martin. Former British prime minister Tony Blair is also due to attend.
GravesideMichael CanneyGerry Adams
Mr Adams, speaking in Newry on Wednesday night, said Sinn Féin was determined to reach an agreement to restore the Northern Executive and Assembly by next Monday’s deadline for a deal.
“It is possible for agreement to be reached in the coming days. So, we will bury our friend Martin McGuinness tomorrow and move directly from his graveside to urgently do our utmost to get the Executive and the Assembly restored and working.
“Martin McGuinness made it clear that the way forward is through respect, equality, and integrity. Sinn Féin’s approach is not about majorities and minorities, it is about rights for all.”