Northern Ireland news

Martin McGuinness IRA volunteer headstone a "reality check" for those "caught up in hyperbole"

The family of Martin McGuinness stand by the new gravestone that was unveiled by Sinn Féin during the annual Easter Rising commemoration at Derry city cemetery. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
John Monaghan

AN IRA reference on Martin McGuinness's headstone should "serve as a reality check", a DUP MP has claimed.

The headstone was unveiled at his grave at the republican plot at Derry city cemetery during the annual Sinn Féin Easter commemoration on Sunday.

It marks Mr McGuinness's involvement as an IRA "volunteer" before mentioning his later roles as an MP, MLA and Stormont minister.

It bears the inscription: "In Proud and Loving Memory of Óglach Martin McGuinness, Óglaigh na hÉireann, MP, MLA, Minister, Died 21st March 2017."

The headstone was unveiled by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD along with Foyle MLAs Raymond McCartney and Elisha McCallion. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

Gregory Campbell, the DUP East Derry MP, said references to Mr McGuinness's IRA membership would come as no surprise to most people.

"For those who were caught up in the hyperbole at the time of his passing and burial however, it ought to serve as a reality check," he said.

Mr Campbell said the reference to the paramilitary past were "lasting testimonies to terror, long after the eulogies have faded".

"Those who got carried away with some of the media's attempted elevation to statesmanship can now see for generations to come what those closest to him want everyone else to remember him as," he said.

"The only good that can come from this engraving is that now those who are prepared to look for the unvarnished truth, can do so, on a headstone that will be there for generations to come."

Doug Beattie, a former British Army captain and current UUP MLA for Upper Bann, said: "He was an IRA man and he is being remembered as an IRA man. Anybody who bought into his transformation from gunman to so-called statesman has been duped in some way.

"People who have lost loved ones to the IRA will see what I see, that he was a member of a terrorist organisation and he supported them until the day he died."

TUV leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister tweeted: "Prioritisation on McGuinness headstone of his unrepentant status as an IRA Volunteer hard to explain by those who pretended he had changed."

Several thousand people watched on as the headstone was unveiled by Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD, along with Foyle MLAs Raymond McCartney and Elisha McCallion, who replaced Mr McGuinness at Stormont.

Mr McGuinness's grandson, Tiernan Hargan, read the Proclamation, while his son Emmett carried a photograph of his father.

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