Martin McGuinness – Go raibh míle maith agat

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Last night Martin McGuinness was the topic of conversation all over social media. With his resignation as Deputy First Minister, the Sinn Féin man who has stepped down is now being hailed as one of the islands greatest politicians of our time.

If the last 24 hours are anything to go by McGuinness was not just a well respected politician among his work colleagues but also those around the world who appreciate the great work he has contributed to on this island.

It’s hard to believe we as a nation have come as far as we have over the last 20-30 years in particular and that in my honest opinion would not have been possible without men like Martin McGuinness.

I’m 25 years of age, so for me someone living in Dublin I know little of the “troubles” only what I have grown up with from my own family. I’m aware that many people of my age bracket living in the North of Ireland wont have the same opinion but we all can agree life has been improved thanks to the efforts of McGuinness.

Although there has been much praise for him right across the media and from the general public there has also been a select few who continue to use the term “terrorist”.

McGuinness grew up in an Ireland that I will never know, an Ireland where daily he witnessed the people in his community persecuted. He was a member of the IRA, something many have tried to use over the years to impede on his political career, they were unsuccessful.

McGuinness a proud Derry man who was born in 1950, was second-in-command of the IRA in his home city by the age of 21. By 1982, McGuinness entered the political world. There will be very few who will disagree with the positive work he participated in regarding the Good Friday Agreement, in fact he played a key role.

When the peace process eventually led to the setting up of a power-sharing executive, he first took the role of Minister for Education, later ascending to become Deputy First Minister in 2007 – with the DUP’s Ian Paisley taking on the First Minister role.

2011 saw him run in the Irish Presidential election, to which he was challenged time and time again on his involvement in the IRA. It became clear of the agenda behind many who targeted him, they saw him as a threat. McGuinness came across well in his speeches and in my personal opinion a true man of Ireland, when he spoke of his life and where he had come from to where he is today many felt a sense of pride – and the opinion polls suggested the same.

The last two decades have seen McGuinness’s career go from strength to strength with support coming from all corners of the island. He has now decided his political career must come to an end and as I look back on many of the moments he has had there is nothing more to be said than thank you.

A proud Irish man who spoke out for fairness and equality for all, a man who I have never had the pleasure of meeting myself but who I have heard from many is “one of the nicest people you will ever meet”.

He will not stand for Sinn Féin in the snap election due to take place on 2 March, he also discussed his battle with illness over the past few months now it is time for a well earned break.

As McGuinness moves on the North of Ireland will now go to the polls again. 2017 shall be an interesting year but a sad one at that as Ireland loses one of the greatest politicians of our time.

A man that fought to bring peace, the peace we have today and many take for granted. McGuinness will always be fondly remembered throughout history for his work and rightly so.

I wish him all the best in this new chapter of his life and I thank him for all the work he has done to ensure a better Ireland for us all – Go raibh míle maith agat.