The Daily Telegraph
‘Impossible to forget’: legacy of McGuinness
By MARTIN McGuinness will be “difficult to forgive” in the eyes of many, a priest has told those attending the former IRA leader’s funeral.
The politician was remembered by mourners – including Bill Clinton, the former US president – at a ceremony in the Long Tower church in Londonderry.
Mr McGuinness, 66, died on Monday from a rare genetic condition.
Speakers paid tribute to his efforts in the Northern Irish peace process, which led to the Good Friday agreement, signed in 1998.
But chief celebrant Father Michael Canny admitted that, for many, Mr McGuinness’s leadership of the IRA would not be forgotten quickly.
“Republicans were not blameless, and many people right across the community find it difficult to forgive and impossible to forget,” he said.
His comments came before Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, speaking at the graveside, challenged those who described Mr McGuinness as a “terrorist”. “Martin McGuinness was not a terrorist. Martin McGuinness was a freedom fighter,” he said.
“He was also a political prisoner, a negotiator, a peacemaker, a healer.” Mr Clinton’s heartfelt eulogy urged modern leaders to copy Mr McGuinness’s “honourable compromises”.
Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster, ex-Democratic Unionist Stormont first ministers, also attended the requiem mass. There was a round of applause inside the church as Mrs Foster took her seat. The symbolism of the leader of unionism attending a former IRA man’s funeral is highly significant.