A founding member of the DUP on the religious right of the party has quoted the Biblical exhortation to “love your enemies” in urging his friends not to rejoice in Martin McGuinness’s serious illness.
Wallace Thompson, a former Stormont special advisor to Nigel Dodds when he was finance minister, is generally seen as a member of the ‘old DUP’, with socially conservative and politically hard line views.
But, in a post on his Facebook page on Monday night, Mr Thompson, who is also heavily involved with fundamentalist groups the Evangelical Protestant Society and the Caleb Foundation, directed his friends to Christ’s words urging forgiveness.
He wrote: “It is obvious that Martin McGuinness is seriously ill. There are those on Facebook rejoicing in this and hoping that he suffers a painful and lingering death.
“I have been around a long time and I’m under no illusions about Martin McGuinness. Supergrass Raymond Gilmour is quoted as saying ‘To look at him now he thinks he is a statesman but his hands are dripping in the blood of many, many people. People shouldn’t forget that.’
“However, if we profess to be evangelical Protestants, we need to reflect upon the words of Christ who said, ‘Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Mr Thompson told the News Letter that he realised that he did not lose close family members to the IRA during the Troubles and that he did not want to be “patronising” to those who suffered the most.
However, he said that he had been reading The Sermon On The Mount and had been struck by the “challenge” of Christ’s words.
Meanwhile, Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA as she attended Mass, also posted a conciliatory Facebook message about the former IRA commander’s serious illness.
She said that Mr McGuinness’s illness and resignation “naturally stirs up mixed feelings in many victims. By our nature, few of us would genuinely wish pain on anyone, because we remember what pain and loss is like. I know things are said, but all I truly wish for is that families get answers before it’s too late ... illness can affect us all at anytime.”