Books of condolence opened for Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness.
Martin McGuinness.

Books of condolence will be opened by the local council tomorrow (Wednesday) in Armagh City (Palace Demesne), Craigavon Civic Centre and Banbridge Old Town Hall ‘for people to acknowledge the sad passing’ of Martin McGuinness, the Lord Mayor Garath Keating has said.

In a Facebook post the Lord Mayor said: “History will remember this man not only as an icon of Irish history but indeed as a huge political figure of global standing and a true international statesman.

“A tremendous loss to us all, his inspiration and warmth will never be forgotten.

“Sleep well dear friend.”

Local politicians have given their reaction to the news of the former Deputy First Minister’s death at the age of 66.

Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd said: “It is with deep regret and sadness that we have learnt of the death of our friend and comrade Martin McGuinness.

“My thoughts, at this time, are with Martin’s family.

“Throughout his life Martin showed great determination and humility and it was no different during his short illness. He was both a friend and a mentor and will be sorely missed.

He continued: “No-one has done more for the peace process here in the North than Martin. Martin worked tirelessly for the re-unification of his country. He was a giant of a man, a passionate republican and a peace builder. He worked tirelessly to secure peace and to advance reconciliation across this island.

“History will be kind to him.

“On behalf of republicans here in Upper Bann I wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the McGuinness family.

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart said Mr McGuinness ‘had been a pivotal figure in Northern Ireland over many years making the journey from senior IRA figure to senior politician’.

She added: “This is undoubtedly a sad time for his family and we express our sympathies to them. In his latter years Martin McGuinness played an important role in moving the republican movement away from their murderous actions into mainstream politics.

“In remembering this we must not forget the hundreds of people murdered by the same republican movement and whose families did not get to sit at the bedside of their loved ones and say goodbye. Men, women and children died at the hands of the IRA, Protestants and Catholics alike. We haven’t and won’t forget them along with the security forces who bravely defended Northern Ireland from tyranny.”

Ulster Unionist Councillor Glenn Barr said: “This will be a very challenging day for victims of the Troubles. I believe no-one needed to die to get Northern Ireland to where it is today. Clearly Martin McGuinness very actively disagreed with that analysis, indeed he took his story to his grave.”

SDLP Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly expressed her condolences and said that ‘despite political differences, the former MLA and MP was always open and honest about both his past and hope for the future’.

She said: “I want to express my deepest sympathies to Martin’s wife Bernie as well as his children and grandchildren. While many reflect on the loss of a colleague, they have lost a husband, a father, a grandfather and a pillar in their lives. Our thoughts are with them.

“I have always found Martin to be a very approachable person, determined to advance the peace process and work in partnership to help the people he represented.

“History will undoubtedly record his life as a journey, one which traced the development of our fledgling peace process from the fire of terrible conflict to a fragile but enduring peace.

“This will be an immensely difficult time for Bernie and their children and the thoughts of me and of Upper Bann SDLP are with them all.”