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Trimble, Hume, Mallon, McGuinness and Paisley – the big beasts of Northern Ireland politics are now all gone

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David Trimble, John Hume, Seamus Mallon, Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley — the men who built the peace, or later drove it, are all gone.

The sole survivor of that era is Gerry Adams, the man who for a decade plotted, manipulated, and out-manoeuvred internal opponents to bring the IRA to end a war it had pledged to continue until there was a British withdrawal.

McGuinness was critical in convincing IRA grassroots and, unlike Adams, he was prepared to roll up his sleeves and go into government in a ‘partitionist’ executive at Stormont.

If Sinn Fein is to win support for Irish unity in a border poll, then it will have to prepare for some heavy lifting and risk taking. Mary Lou McDonald’s history and demeanour indicate she won’t shy away from that.

Michelle O’Neill’s recent gestures suggest she is prepared to stretch herself. But neither woman has the same clout in the republican community that McGuinness and Adams enjoyed. Their leverage came from the loyalty that had developed over 25 years of conflict.


Martin McGuinness


McGuinness denounced dissident republicans who killed two British soldiers at Massareene in 2009 as “traitors to the island of Ireland”. It was his own IRA CV which enabled him to........

© Belfast Telegraph

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