Martin McGuinness honoured by US city for 'courageous military service' to anger of IRA victims
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Martin McGuinness honoured by US city for 'courageous military service' to anger of IRA victims

MARTIN McGuinness has been awarded a posthumous honour by the city of San Francisco for his "courageous service in the military", sparking fury among IRA victims.

The 'Certificate of Honor' award – the US equivalent to a Freedom of the City honour – was commissioned on March 8 and signed by the Democratic Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed.

The award cites a number of reasons for honouring the late Sinn Féin first minister and former IRA commander, including his role "as a negotiator" who "helped cement and shape the Northern Ireland Peace Process and construct the Good Friday Agreement".

The certificate adds: "His sacrifice and dedication to secure peace for his people is not only an inspiration to us all, but represents San Francisco values at their best.

"He leaves a legacy that embodies and celebrates the diverse history and strength of San Francisco and Ireland."

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Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney shared news of the award on Twitter, but victims of the IRA have reacted with horror.

The former Mayor of Derry, Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) councillor Mary Hamilton – who was injured in the 1972 IRA bombing of Claudy– described the award as "disgusting".

Cllr Hamilton, whose brother-in-law George Hamilton was also shot and killed by the IRA in 1972, told The Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster that she broke down when she heard the news.

"I remember every day the Claudy bomb victims, blown to pieces at my feet. And my brother-in-law, shot in the back, who left behind a four-year-old child and a wife," Cllr Hamilton said.

"And to think Martin McGuinness is being honoured... it is disgusting what they have done."

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UUP MLA Doug Beattie, a retired Army captain, wrote to the Mayor of San Francisco on Twitter: "I fought shoulder to shoulder with your country after the 9/11 terrorist attack. Yet you honour terrorists who butchered men, women and children in mine. #ShameOnYou."

Margaret Veitch, whose parents died in the 1987 IRA Enniskillen bombing, claimed Mr McGuinness remained "an unrepentant terrorist" when he died in 2017 aged 66.

She told the Belfast Telegraph: "Terrorists are terrorists the world over, except in Northern Ireland where they are put into government and given awards..

"There's not another country that would tolerate it. I don't know what's wrong with people that terrorists are now being honoured. Will San Francisco now be giving a posthumous honour to Osama bin Laden?"

Derry native McGuinness was once second-in-command of the IRA in the city and never denied being a member of the paramilitary group, unlike former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

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The late politician's headstone – unveiled at the republican plot of Derry City Cemetery on Easter Sunday 2017 – even acknowledges his IRA past.

It reads: "In Proud and Loving Memory of Óglach Martin McGuinness, Óglaigh na hÉireann, MP, MLA, Minister, Died March 21st, 2017" – with "Óglach" being a term used by the IRA to describe its volunteers.