Northern Ireland news

'We were as close as brothers': Presbyterian minister David Latimer pens book about Martin McGuinness friendship

Rev David Latimer became a close personal friend Martin McGuinness. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

A Presbyterian minister is to publish a book about his deep friendship with Martin McGuinness.

Rev David Latimer will detail his relationship with the Sinn Féin politician from its beginnings when he approached the Bogside man following the paint-bombing of his First Derry Presbyterian church.

He said A Leap of Faith, to be launched later this year, would cover every aspect of a friendship that developed over 10 years, including the backlash he suffered from within his own community.

It is being published with the support of the McGuinness family and it is understood the former deputy first minister's widow Bernie has written a foreword.

While the friendship developed behind the scenes, it became known to the wider public when – along with Derry priest Fr Michael Canny - Rev Latimer publicly endorsed Mr McGuinness's presidential candidature seven years ago.

The closeness of the bond was also evident when he delivered a eulogy at his funeral in March last year.

He told The Irish News: “I still totally miss him as a friend. We were as close as brothers.”

Rev Latimer said he wrote the book so that people would know “the truth about the relationship”.

He said he had expected a backlash from his own community when their bond became public but nothing prepared him for the depth of the onslaught.

This included graffiti and a police warning that loyalists intended vandalising his home.

Rev Latimer said some families also left his First Derry Presbyterian church, while loyal orders stopped using the buidling on Derry's walls as a venue for parades.

He was also either overtly shunned or “politely ignored” by some fellow members of the Protestant faiths.

Despite this, Rev Latimer said he never regretted allowing the friendship to develop.

“The book will help people understand that we have to do things; to take risks and this was the result. It will include some lovely facets of a remarkable relationship.”

All proceeds from the book will go to research into Amyloidosis, the illness from which Mr McGuinness died.

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