‘You have to finish his work’- Bill Clinton

Former US President Bill Clinton touches the coffin of Martin McGuinness during yesterday's funeral Mass at St Columba's Church, Long Tower.
Former US President Bill Clinton touches the coffin of Martin McGuinness during yesterday's funeral Mass at St Columba's Church, Long Tower.

President Bill Clinton has said that it will now be up to everyone to carry on Martin McGuinness’ legacy by finishing the road to peace that he helped create.

Passing his condolences to Mr McGuinness’ family, Mr Clinton made reference to the gathered dignitaries and all the others who were part of “the amazing unfolding of Martin McGuinness’ life”. “I came to treasure every encounter. I liked him,” he said.

Party leader Michelle O'Neill carries the coffin of Martin McGuinness. DER1217-145KM

Party leader Michelle O'Neill carries the coffin of Martin McGuinness. DER1217-145KM

“He grew up at a time of rage and resentment not only in Ireland but across the world and it was pronounced here. He was part of the rage of his time, he hated the discrimination, he decided to oppose it by whatever means available to the passionate young including violence” he added.

“Somewhere along the way for whatever reason he decided to give peace a chance. He was good about sticking with something he decided to do and he succeeded because his word was good, his listening skills were good. He was not afraid to make a compromise and he was strong enough to keep it if he made it.

“Finally he realised that you could have an island that was free and independent and self-governing and still inclusive, that the dreams of little children were no more or less legitimate just because of their faith background, or their family’s history or the sins of their parents.”

Mr Clinton said that if people really wanted to honour Martin McGuinness’ legacy they “would finish the work of peace so we can all have a future together.”

Arlene Foster and Bishop Donal McKeown arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Arlene Foster and Bishop Donal McKeown arriving for the funeral of Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, at St Columba's Church Long Tower (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

To rounds of applause inside St Columba’s Church, Mr Clinton earlier singled out Arlene Foster for special mention saying he was glad to see her at the Requiem Mass, “because I know and most people in this church know, that your life has been marked in painful ways by the ‘Troubles,’ and I believe the only way a lasting peace can hold and endure is if those with legitimate griefs on both sides embrace the future together.”

Mr Clinton said Martin McGuinness “never stopped being who he was, a good husband, a good father, a faithful follower of the faith of his father’s and mother’s and a passionate believer in a free, secure, self-governing Ireland.”

Stating that Martin had “earned the vast crowd” who had turned out for his funeral, President Clinton said: “He expanded the definition of us and shrunk the definition of them. The world at every period of insecurity faces a new wave of tribalism. If you really came here to celebrate his life and to honour the contribution of the last chapter of it, you have to finish his work.”