Northern Ireland news

San Francisco mayor apologises for hurt caused by Martin McGuinness award

Mayor of San Francisco London Breed

THE mayor of San Francisco has apologised for pain caused by an award to the late Martin McGuinness - but some victims say it is not enough.

London Breed came under fire after a citation honoured Mr McGuinness's "courageous service in the military".

The certificate, which is the equivalent to the freedom of a city, also recognised the former deputy first minister's role in the north's peace process.

Victims of IRA violence criticised the award as "disgusting".

Read More: Arlene Foster invites San Francisco mayor to learn about IRA violence

Ms Breed responded by explaining that as part of the city's annual St. Patrick's Day festivities, her office traditionally provided `certificates of honor' to the `Honorary Grand Marshalls' selected by the United Irish Societies of San Francisco.

The tribute to the former IRA commander turned political leader hailed his work bringing peace to Northern Ireland but also praised his courage in military action.

"This year, Martin McGuinness was selected as one of the five Grand Marshalls," Ms Breed said.

"San Francisco values means respect for the democratic process and non-violent political actions. The language on the certificate of honor should have taken more care to apply these values when reflecting the history of Mr McGuinness's life towards peacemaker and his role in the peace process that resulted in the Good Friday Agreement.

"I apologize for the pain this certificate has caused."

Ms Breed's statement made no mention of whether or not the award would now be taken away.

An online petition demanding the city rescind it had yesterday gained almost 3,000 signatures.

Mary Hamilton, an Ulster Unionist councillor who was injured in the Claudy bombing, and whose brother-in-law George Hamilton was shot and killed by the IRA in 1972, said the apology had "come too late" for victims.

In an open letter, east Derry DUP MP Gregory Campbell also appealed to Ms Breed to reconsider.

The reference to "courageous service in the military", he said, had "caused widespread anger and hurt among the thousands of victims of IRA violence".

His party leader Arlene Foster wrote to the mayor to invite her to learn about the IRA and "see how terrorism still causes pain today".

A Sinn Féin spokesman said the honour was "a welcome recognition of the life and legacy of Martin McGuinness".

"Martin McGuinness made a colossal contribution to the peace process, Irish unity and reconciliation," he said.

"His remarkable life and legacy has been celebrated and recognised across the world."

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