Martin McGuinness (1950-2017) was an Irish Republican, a Sinn Fein politician, a former Provisional IRA commander, and a significant figure in both the peace agreement and post-Troubles Northern Ireland.
One of seven children from a Catholic family in Derry, McGuinness left school at age 15 and obtained work with a local butcher. When the Troubles erupted in 1969 McGuinness joined the Official IRA, switching to the Provisional IRA after the factional split in late 1969.
The following year he was Sinn Fein’s lead negotiator during meetings that culminated in the Good Friday agreement. In 1999 McGuinness was appointed Minister for Education in the Northern Ireland executive. This shocked many Unionists, concerned that a former IRA commander was responsible for the education of their children. In fact, McGuinness’ involvement in the peace process and post-Good Friday government remained a sore point with many unable to forgive or forget his previous affiliations.
McGuinness remained First Minister until his retirement due to ill health in January 2017. He died two months later. McGuinness’ funeral was attended by scores of politicians and dignitaries including Gerry Adams, Bill Clinton, Bertie Ahern and John Hume.
Title: “Martin McGuinness”
Authors: Rebekah Poole, Jennifer Llewellyn
Publisher: Alpha History
Date published: February 20, 2018
Date accessed: March 21, 2023