Brave and Noble Convictions of ALL who PIONEERED PEACE NEGOTIATIONS in the ISLAND OF IRELAND - ESPECIALLY IN NORTHERN IRELAND THROUGH THE 1998 GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT.
In any editorial tribute and especially in an All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Irish Heritage Gallery of Famous Sons & Daughters Of Ireland, balancing the positives and negatives of a subjects career is very significant.
In 21st century Island Of Ireland, having regard to the troubled era from the early 1970’s to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement signed on the 10th April 1998, many potential personalities we may consider for incorporation, will not find friendly approval from all corners of society around the globe.
Martin McGuinness, just like political leaders all around the globe, had no input to the place where he was born. It happened to be The Bogside, in Republican Derry, a stronghold of the city where oppression of its people reached its zenith in the late 1960’s. Martin, born and bred into a distressed and oppressed community, was not immune from witnessing and listening to a raft of hostile hostilities towards his own people.
As a teenager his mind dictated to his budding personality, that the arm of the law of the land in Northern Ireland, was not too interested in providing a just and equal society in a city where the catholic population outscored the protestant community in numbers.
The future welfare prospects for a better quality of life to young Martin and his contemporaries in Derry City looked extremely bleak in the late 1960’s. Taking up arms, illegal as it was at that time, was a duty that Martin McGuinness did not shirk.
The events of the never to be forgotten Bloody Sunday on 30th January 1972 in Derry City cemented a hatred of British oppression within Republican circles and Martin was then just 21 years old. He was not mature in political tones but he was very mature in continuing the struggle for a united 32 counties of Ireland.
That aspiration was also flourishing within the hearts and minds of many citizens in the Republic of Ireland at that time and many volunteers from the Republic joined with Martin in the struggle for freedom, justice and peace in the Island of Ireland. Few envisaged the ferocity of deaths and destruction that lay in store throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s in Northern Ireland.
Many unfortunate Irish and British people lost their lives simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Martin designated over two decades of his young life to carrying out what he believed at that time, was a route to a united Ireland. Like many of his peers he sought peace and justice for his own community in Derry’s Bogside, but also for communities all over the Island of Ireland.
Whilst the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) was an outlawed organisation in Northern Ireland and also in the Republic of Ireland, the protestant loyalist communities within Northern Ireland, were also an outlawed tribe, whose chief desire was to maintain oppression and injustice for catholics all over Northern Ireland. The loyalists did not succeed in their determination to offend catholic aspirations for equality in the workplace and also to uphold their domination of their fellow citizens.
The historic decision by Martin McGuinness and his chief comrade in arms, Gerry Adams from Belfast, to resolve their immense differences with their perceived enemies across a negotiating table, was the prime factor that halted ongoing murder and mayhem in Northern Ireland in the 21st century.
Martin stayed in the North of Ireland zone whilst Gerry Adams crossed the political border to the Republic of Ireland to beef up their new found belief, that Sinn Féin, against the odds, may become a political powerbroker in the Island of Ireland. Since 1918, when Sinn Féin swept to power all over Ireland under Griffith, De Valera and Collins, the Republican party was labouring under immense pressure to maintain their identity.
Following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement Sinn Féin again became a potent political force and their climb back to political respectability was now on a new inventive journey. McGuinness and Adams made giants leaps on both sides of the border that earned unprecedented approval, in all four corners of Ireland.
The journey they undertook was treacherous, dangerous and often deeply offensive to both men. Many Irish broadcasters and journalists searched every possible loophole to decommission both Sinn Féin leaders and contaminate their new found political careers and none moreso than a legendary RTE broadcaster.
McGuinness and Adams outscored all the negatives in the dawn of the new 21st century. Their Sinn Féin party blossomed all over Ireland with voters and with new recruitments within their own party.
Sinn Féin was no longer seen by the majority of Irish people as a recruitment base for I.R.A. volunteers. That respect and understanding was many years fermenting in both political domains, north and south of the unseen border.
Now to the question of Famous Sons & Daughters Of Ireland Online Gallery and the question, YES or NO, of incorporating Martin McGuinness and other peace pioneers, into our historic Irish Heritage collection.
Michael Collins was one of our very first entries of incorporation in compiling our Famous Sons & Daughters of Ireland Irish Heritage Website. There was never any possibility that Michael Collins could be omitted in any historic collection of Famous Sons & Daughters of Ireland. We attain to reach out to our readers and browsers that includes Irish people in the Island of Ireland; our Irish exiles and also to people of Irish ancestry.
Collins worked in London in his youth in the dawn of the 20th century and infiltrated many British establishments with assistance from notable men such as Sam Maguire and Liam McCarthy working in London and giant names in gaelic games history.
Just like McGuinness and Adams, Collins was chosen and approved by both sides as a chief peace negotiator to set up a Free and United Ireland. It did not happen and Michael Collins paid the ultimate price with his own life in 1922 when assonated by his own people in his native Co. Cork.
The peace within Ireland was always fragile for over 800 years and even now Ireland, without its entire independence from British rule in the Island of Ireland, needs to be ever mindful, that everlasting peace is not a guarantee.
McGuinness and Adams signed up for peace in 1998 and Ireland without a 32 county umbrella is always at risk from dissident republicans and also dissident loyalists.
At the All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery of Famous Sons & Daughters of Ireland, it is essential that Martin McGuinness is acknowledged, just like Michael Collins, as a Famous Son Of Ireland and also as a Famous Son of Derry. Religious persuasions has never been part of our credentials in selecting any personality for incorporation in Famous Sons & Daughters Of Ireland.
In recognising Martin McGuinness as a Famous Son of Ireland, it is also essential to recognise the huge and important contributions of many more Northern Ireland personalities from various religious communities.
Many of these outstanding personalities went out on a limb in their quest for peace and justice for all sectors of people in Northern Ireland. Many suffered political trauma in their lives as a consequence and the fall out for their bravery and pioneering resulted in the demise of their political careers.
We salute both sides for their courage and willingness to embark on their respective journies and leave the troubled Ireland of times past confined to historians.
We live in the present and by working honestly and diligently in the present, we look forward to a prosperous and peaceful Ireland, north and south, all through the 21st century and way beyond for our upcoming future generations.
Derry JF Doody
@ All Ireland Hall Of Fame