Sinn Féin’s problem with history hasn’t gone away

As the party’s leadership changes generation, the real question about Sinn Féin is not why has its support grown, but why hasn’t it grown more?

The  coffin of Martin McGuinness is carried through  Derry at his funeral on Thursday. Photograph: Alan Betson

The coffin of Martin McGuinness is carried through Derry at his funeral on Thursday. Photograph: Alan Betson

The untimely death of Martin McGuinness, at the beginning of a period when he had hoped to enjoy his retirement, is being mourned deeply in Sinn Féin and recognised much further afield as a great loss for Northern Ireland. The attendance and mood at his funeral on Thursday attested to that.

McGuinness’s exceptional personal qualities, the fact and symbolism of his own journey from war to peace, and his obvious commitment to reconciliation and the progress of politics in the North will be impossible to replace (although the cemeteries, as they say, are full of indispensable men).

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