Martin McGuinness: Britain and Ireland react to the death of the 'passionate republican'

Martin McGuinness: Britain and Ireland react to the death of the 'passionate republican'

TRIBUTES to Martin McGuinness have poured in as the world has reacted to his death. 

His death was announced by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams this morning, March 21.

Mr McGuinness passed away overnight in Derry aged 66 after a short illness, his party announced in a statement.

He is survived by his wife Bernie and four children, Fiachra, Emmet, Fionnuala and Gráinne, his grandchildren and the extended McGuinness family.

Following the news of his passing, figures from across Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Britain have shared their thoughts about the former Deputy First Minister and leader of Sinn Féin.

Here's what they have said....


Martin McGuinness greeting the Queen in Belfast in 2012. Their handshake was a historic moment (Picture: Getty Images)

The Queen

The Palace has confirmed  the Queen has sent a private message of condolence to the McGuinness family.

Prime Minister Theresa May 

“While I can never condone the path he took in the earlier part of his life, Martin McGuinness ultimately played a defining role in leading the Republican movement away from violence. In doing so, he made an essential and historic contribution to the extraordinary journey of Northern Ireland from conflict to peace. While we certainly didn’t always see eye-to-eye even in later years, as deputy First Minister for nearly a decade he was one of the pioneers of implementing cross community power sharing in Northern Ireland. He understood both its fragility and its precious significance and played a vital part in helping to find a way through many difficult moments. At the heart of it all was his profound optimism for the future of Northern Ireland – and I believe we should all hold fast to that optimism today.”

Prime Minister Theresa May wth Martin McGuinness. (Picture: CHARLES MCQUILLAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Tony Blair, former Prime Minister 

"There will be people who will remember the earlier days, people who lost loved ones in The Troubles, and they will find it very hard to forgive and impossible to forget. The steel that he showed, back then, in the pursuit of armed struggle, that same determination was then brought forward in the peace process so the character of Martin McGuinness in one sense did not change, that steel was always there, but once he decided to deploy it in the pursuit of peace, he did so with a lot of courage and a lot of leadership."

Conor McGinn, MP for St Helen's North, Chair of the Irish APPG and native of Northern Ireland 

"I am so sorry to hear about the death of Martin McGuinness. Martin played a pivotal role in working for peace and reconciliation over the last two decades. On his frequent visits to Britain, Martin engaged fulsomely with the Irish community. His loss will be felt keenly here as well as in Ireland. In the years I have known and worked with Martin, he demonstrated an unwavering commitment to building a better, peaceful, prosperous and united future for the people of Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland. His journey from the streets of Derry to the Office of First Minister is well-documented, and much will be written about it over the coming days and months."

Martin Doherty Hughes, Scottish National Party MP for West Dunbartonshire

“Martin McGuiness showed us that dialogue and compromise is the only foundation for peace: and it is that peace which has allowed us to have the Northern Ireland we see today. The friendship he built with Ian Paisley, through times of undeniable stress and real pressure, is a testament to what true community partnership can achieve and deliver. I will mark his passing with great sadness, but with the hope that we can all continue to build on his legacy.”

Martin McGuiness showed us that dialogue and compromise is the only foundation for peace: and it is that peace which has allowed us to have the Northern Ireland we see today - Martin Doherty Hughes

Dave Anderson, Shadow Secretary for Northern Ireland and Labour MP for Blaydon 

On behalf of myself and my colleagues I would like to extend condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Martin Mc Guinness on his sad passing today. His political journey was unique as Northern Ireland's itself and demonstrates the great change seen throughout the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Whilst our politics may not have been the same it is clear to all that Martin Mc Guinness played a key role in helping to bring forward the peace we see in Northern Ireland today and for that we should all show our gratitude.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party 

Kyle Paisley, son of the late Ian Paisley 

Eddie O'Kane, London Irish community member and business owner

"I was saddened to hear of the death of Martin McGuinness. He, like Ian Paisley, was not found wanting when the time came for our communities to be lifted from the quagmire of hate, violence and sectarianism. The IRA would simply never have moved to a political position if the new direction had not been embraced by him. Watching the newsreels today of the handshakes, first with Ian Paisley and then the Queen, I still have to pinch myself to believe how far we have come in such a short time. To this extent he played perhaps the biggest role in delivering peace and for that I think history will judge him positively."


Taoiseach Enda Kenny 

"His passing represents a significant loss, not only to politics in Northern Ireland but to the wider political landscape on this island and beyond. Martin will always be remembered for the remarkable political journey that he undertook in his lifetime. Not only did Martin come to believe that peace must prevail, he committed himself to working tirelessly to that end. Martin was one of the chief architects of the Good Friday Agreement and he worked resolutely in the years that followed it in pursuit of its full implementation. His commitment to securing enduring peace and prosperity for all of the people of Northern Ireland was unwavering throughout this time. He strove to make Northern Ireland a better place for everyone, regardless of background or tradition."

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Martin McGuinness. (Picture: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images)

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins 

“The world of politics and the people across this island will miss the leadership he gave, shown most clearly during the difficult times of the peace process, and his commitment to the values of genuine democracy that he demonstrated in the development of the institutions in Northern Ireland. In addition to his services in public life, as an inclusive believer in community in all its forms he will also be remembered for his warm support for Derry GAA and Derry FC. His death leaves a gap that will be difficult to fill. May he rest in peace.”

Martin was one of the chief architects of the Good Friday Agreement and he worked resolutely in the years that followed it in pursuit of its full implementation - An Taoiseach Enda Kenny 

Martin McGuinness, the Queen, and President of Ireland Michael D Higgins on the President's first state visit to Britain. (Picture: Luke MacGregor - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan 

“In his embrace of the politics of peace, he made an immense personal contribution to building and consolidating peace on this island. Martin’s generosity of spirit; his courageous leadership; and his ability to stretch himself in the pursuit of political stability inspired many others to do the same. He led with patience, with courtesy, and with a willingness to see and acknowledge the goodwill in others – even if those people were far removed from his own republican tradition. As deputy First Minister, Martin displayed great courage and leadership, especially in undertaking gestures of respect and reconciliation which reached across community lines. He did so despite being exposed to political criticism and personal risk. This legacy of leadership will no doubt inspire the next generation of leaders in Northern Ireland."

President of Sinn Féin and TD for Louth, Gerry Adams

"It is with deep regret and sadness that we have learnt of the death of our friend and comrade Martin McGuinness who passed away in Derry during the night. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Throughout his life Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness. He was a passionate republican who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and for the re-unification of his country. But above all he loved his family and the people of Derry and he was immensely proud of both."

Long-time colleagues and friends Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams. (Picture: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Mary Lou McDonald, Sinn Féin TD

Micheál Martn, Leader of Fianna Fáil 

“By his actions and words over the last 25 years, he demonstrated a keen understanding of what the Peace Process was all about. He worked to build bridges between the different traditions and communities on the island. He reached out to the Unionist community in particular, and their leaders, to steer Northern Ireland towards a better shared future. His leadership with former DUP Leader, the late Revd Ian Paisley was a striking illustration of this. As a man, he possessed great humility, and was very personable. His work in the Peace Process will undoubtedly inspire others to follow his legacy in continuing to build stronger bridges between both traditions on this island."

Northern Ireland 

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland 

"I will remember Martin as someone who chose personally to leave behind the path of violence and to walk instead along the more challenging path of peace and reconciliation.  As a leader he was courageous and took risks in order to bring others with him, convincing them that goals could be achieved by politics and persuasion. He channelled his many gifts into creating and sustaining the peace process of which he was one of the key architects. I have no doubt that Martin's faith and relationship with God guided him along this journey. He was a man of prayer and I am personally grateful for his good wishes and encouragement to me, as a fellow Derry man, in my own vocation."

James Brokenshire, Secretary for Northern Ireland

"Martin’s personal journey and the clear influence he had on others in the Republican movement were instrumental in shaping political institutions in Northern Ireland founded on exclusively peaceful and democratic means. While not forgetting the past, no-one can doubt the essential role he played in helping to secure the power sharing arrangements and political progress in Northern Ireland. Martin’s commitment to reconciliation and understanding across communities was a significant factor. Whilst passionate and robust in his politics, on a personal level I always found Martin to be thoughtful and reflective and appreciated the personal consideration he showed. The importance of family and his home in Derry shone through.

His leadership, grace and warm personality have transformed Irish politics for the better - Michelle O'Neill 

Arlene Foster, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party

History will record differing views and opinions on the role Martin McGuinness played throughout the recent and not so recent past but history will also show that his contribution to the political and peace process was significant. He served the people of Northern Ireland as deputy first minister for nearly a decade and was pivotal in bringing the republican movement towards a position of using peaceful and democratic means. In recent years his contribution helped build the relative peace we now enjoy. While our differing backgrounds and life experiences inevitably meant there was much to separate us, we shared a deep desire to see the devolved institutions working to achieve positive results for everyone. I know that he believed that the institutions were the basis for building stability. Martin faced his illness with courage and, after stepping away from the glare of the public spotlight I sincerely hope he got the chance to enjoy the things he loved.

Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster speak to members of the media outside 10 Downing Street in October 2016. (Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Michelle O'Neill, Leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland 

"Martin was truly a giant of Irish politics and was known and respected across the world. He led republicanism from the front for decades, striving for reunification and promoting peace and reconciliation and a genuine commitment to equality and respect. His leadership, grace and warm personality have transformed Irish politics for the better and his impact will be felt for many years to come."

It's not how you start your life that is important, but it's important how you finish your life - Ian Paisley Jnr

Martin McGuinness embraces the new leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill in January. (Picture: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown

"Martin McGuinness played a uniquely significant role in the life of this society for almost 50 years. Firstly my sympathies go to his wife Bernie and family. They have lost someone, who remained so loyal to and protective of them throughout his life. Secondly, for those who know him well, there will be a huge sense of personal loss. Martin’s role in moving Northern Ireland from conflict to politics has been immense. Others will have more painful memories of how their lives were affected. And I encourage everyone, when they reflect on Martin McGuinness, to be sensitive to how his death will be felt across this community."

Ian Paisley Jnr, son of Ian Paisley and MP for North Antrim 

"It's not how you start your life that is important, but it's important how you finish your life. I think a lot of people will be thankful for how Martin McGuinness finished his life a lot better than it could have been. His journey was remarkable and I think that's very significant but there will be mixed feelings; there will be people out there that will be hurt, and hurt forever, by the actions of The Godfather but there's also people out there who have been benefitted forever by the actions of the man in government."

Ian Paisley Snr, who died in 2014, with Martin McGuinness. (Picture:Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images)