Headstone records Martin McGuinness's IRA and political past

A headstone is unveiled at the grave of Martin McGuinness in Derry city cemetery during the Easter Sunday commemorations in the city by Sinn Fein vice chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald and MLAs, Raymond McCartney and Elisha McCallion. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

Former deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness’s role as an IRA man has been recorded on his gravestone unveiled at Derry city cemetery.

Mr McGuinness’s headstone at the republican plot marked his role as an IRA "volunteer" as well as a minister, MP and assembly member.

A crowd of several thousand people – much larger than normal - attended yesterday’s annual Derry Sinn Féin Easter commemoration at which the headstone was unveiled. The former deputy first minister died on March 21 following a short illness.

Members of Mr McGuinness’s family attended yesterday’s commemoration at which his grandson, Tieran Hargan read the 1916 Proclamation. The former deputy first minister's son, Emmett also carried a photograph of his father. The headstone was unveiled by Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD along with MLAs, Raymond McCartney and Elisha McCallion, who replaced Mr McGuinness as Foyle representative at Stormont.

Mr McGuinness's gravestone - almost an exact copy of the other monuments in Derry's republican plot - bears the inscription: “In Proud and Loving Memory of Óglach Martin McGuinness, Óglaigh na hÉireann, MP, MLA, Minister, Died 21st March 2017.”

The inscription on former deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness's gravestone which was unveiled at Derry city cemetery yesterday, Sunday.

Óglach is the Irish word for Volunteer while “Óglaigh na hÉireann” is translated as The Irish Volunteers but is generally accepted as the Irish form of the IRA’s name.

A quotation from the former deputy first minister, included at the bottom of the gravestone, reads: “We have to govern by treating every single citizen equally.” The headstone also bears the message: “Forever Loved, Bernie (his wife), children and grandchildren.”

The footstone on the grave bears the inscription: “I love you with my whole heart and soul.”

The commemoration was accompanied by a traditional republican movement colour party, with the parade to Derry city cemetery led by children dressed in green, white and orange. Members of local GAA clubs and other groups also carried a large Tricolour.

Emmett McGuinness carrying a portrait of his father Martin on the way to the annual Republican Easter Rising commemoration in Derry city cemetery on Easter Sunday. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

In her oration, Ms McDonald said the republican movement’s “great leader and friend” now lay in Derry city cemetery.

She said: “Martin McGuinness, whose heart came alive and kept faith with the Bogside. Martin McGuinness, a faithful son of Ireland. Martin McGuinness who fought, who made peace and who will never be forgotten. Martin lead from the front, he took risks for freedom and risks to build the peace.”

The Sinn Féin vice president said the only fitting tribute to Mr McGuinness was for the party to lead, to mobilise, to organise and to match its dreams with ambition.

“We can live in a united, free Ireland. We can live in a socially just, equal Ireland. I believe we will. Martin believed we would. We will prove him right.

The annual Republican Easter Rising commemoration making its way to Derry city cemetery on Easter Sunday. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

“We promise to meet the challenges of our time with the grit and graciousness that were the mark of our Martin. We stand in solidarity with Bernie and his beloved clann as we lament his passing and honour his life and legacy,” she said.

Ms McDonald urged republicans to prepare for a united Ireland and to embrace all people on the island of Ireland in doing so.

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