Northern Ireland news

Martin McGuinness sowed seeds of peace, mourners at anniversary Mass told

Former deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness's wife, Bernie attended a Mass at Longtower Church in Derry marking the first anniversary of his death. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

MARTIN McGuinness sowed the “seeds of peace” in his work with Ian Paisley, mourners at a Mass marking the first anniversary of his death have been told.

Mr McGuinness’s wife Bernie and children Fionnuala, Gráinne, Fiachra and Emmett were joined by family, friends and Sinn Féin members at the anniversary Mass at St Columb’s Church, Long Tower, last night.

Fr Michael Canny was joined on the altar by Presbyterian minister Rev David Latimer with whom he helped launch Mr McGuinness’s unsuccessful campaign for the Irish presidency in 2011.

While a low-key commemoration, the McGuinness family were joined by former Stormont speaker Mitchel McLaughlin and former West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty among others. Singing at the Mass was provided by the late deputy first minister’s granddaughter Cara while his brother, former Derry county Gaelic footballer Tom, did a reading.

Fr Canny told mourners church etiquette dictated he wear purple vestments in lent. However, he opted for green vestments as they had been presented to him by Mr McGuinness’s wife.

He said those present had come together in prayerful remembrance and gratitude.

“We want to be sure that the person who was important and special to us in life that they are still very much part of our lives and this evening we remember Martin in a special way," he said.

Mr Latimer told mourners he found himself recently discussing Mr McGuinness’s work with the late Ian Paisley with Mr Paisley’s widow Eileen.

“They achieved a lot, she told me proudly and she was absolutely right. Against all the odds they came together and by doing that they showed us all what is possible. They lit a candle and I don’t think that candle, that candle of hope, is ever going to be extinguished,” he said.

He said progress only came through the persistent effort of men and women who were willing to be co-workers with God.

Members of the McGuinness family including son Emmett McGuinness arriving at Longtower Church in Derry on Wednesday evening for the first anniversary mass of Martin McGuinness. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 21-3-18 �©.

“Both Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley were intent on exploring those problems that unite us instead of belabouring those problems which divide us. A foundation was being put in place and seeds of peace were being planted by the man we’re remembering tonight,” he said.

Mr Latimer said Mr McGuinness used the “benchmark of cooperation” to push back fear and suspicion.

“He lives on in our hearts and in our minds and he lives on in our conversations and he lives on in my heart and my mind,” he said.

Members of the McGuinness family including son Fiachra McGuinness arriving at Longtower Church in Derry on Wednesday evening for the first anniversary mass of Martin McGuinness. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 21-3-18 �©.

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