Dungiven vigil: ‘There were no airs or graces with Martin McGuinness’

Sinn Colr. Sean McGlinchey signs a Book of Condolence in the Sinn Fein office in Dungiven. Looking on are Sinn Fein's Caroline White and Sinn Fein Colr. Brenda Chivers. Photo: Dylan Quigg.
Sinn Colr. Sean McGlinchey signs a Book of Condolence in the Sinn Fein office in Dungiven. Looking on are Sinn Fein's Caroline White and Sinn Fein Colr. Brenda Chivers. Photo: Dylan Quigg.

‘A colossal loss’ is how Martin McGuinness’s death was described by some of his supporters in Dungiven who braved the bitter cold earlier this week to pay their respects to the former deputy First Minister.

Hundreds of people, young and old, from Dungiven and surrounding areas stood in silence, as they were led in prayer, clutching candles on Tuesday night to pay their respects to the man they said “made a difference”.

Sinn Féin Colr. Sean McGlinchey said the vigil was held in response to the many calls from people asking how they could pay their respects locally.

“It’s a massive turnout and there a lot of people who are very emotional, and you’ll see that when you speak to people that are here,” said an emotional Colr. McGlinchey at The Grove in Dungiven. “It’s a massive loss to everybody. Personally, I’m heartbroken. Like I said tonight, we have young people coming up and we have to strive to achieve peace, what Martin and his family worked towards for the last 40 years.

“We have to remember Martin’s family who gave so much, all those long nights, so we owe the McGuinness family a lot too.

“What else can you say? It’s just a very sad day.”

Aidan Hegarty from Dungiven said he wanted to be at the vigil to pay his respects.

“Martin was a great Irishman, a great republican,” said Aidan, “and a prime mover in the peace process. His death is a colossal loss.”

Hugh McGee from Donegal said Martin McGuinness’s death was as big as that of Michael Collins, while Brendan Harkin said he felt he “simply had to be at the vigil”.

“Martin was a great Irishman, a proud Irishman and a man of the peace,” said Mr. Harkin.

Tiney Kealey from Dungiven said: “He was a great man and he’ll be badly missed. He made a big difference.”

Sinn Fein councillor Dermot Nicholl is a cousin of Martin McGuinness.

“It’s hard to comprehend this day has come in such a short space of time. It’s not even three months since Martin stood down.

“Everyone is heartbroken and devastated. We’ve lost a true, inspirational leader for the community and the country, a man who strived to bring us where we are today. Martin was a cousin of mine, and he was someone who inspired me growing up. I looked up to him. We’d always meet at Celtic Park and have a yarn with him, that’s how he was.

“There were no airs or graces with Martin. He was the same with everybody.”

A Book of Condolence is also open at Limavady Council offices on Connell Street until Wednesday 29th March at 4pm.