Fintan O’Toole: Martin McGuinness, a hard man to replace

As deputy first minister he showed the same determination with which he led the IRA

Once an IRA leader, key Sinn Féin figure Martin McGuinness left his past behind to become one of the major players in Northern Ireland’s peace process. Video: Reuters

In 1994, when attempts to get the IRA to call a ceasefire were intensifying, Martin McGuinness was about to enter the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin for a discreet meeting with officials.

This was in itself remarkable: 21 years earlier, in 1973, he had also been in an official building in central Dublin, the Special Criminal Court, which he refused to recognise, informing the judges that “we regard the Free State government as cowards, traitors and allies of the murderers of the people.

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