Gerry Adams: Martin was determined ‘to build a better society’

2018:  Gerry Adams with Bernie McGuinness at the unveiling of a portrait of Martin McGuinness commissioned by the NI Assembly Commission for Parliament Buildings. (Photo William Cherry/ PressEye)2018:  Gerry Adams with Bernie McGuinness at the unveiling of a portrait of Martin McGuinness commissioned by the NI Assembly Commission for Parliament Buildings. (Photo William Cherry/ PressEye)
2018: Gerry Adams with Bernie McGuinness at the unveiling of a portrait of Martin McGuinness commissioned by the NI Assembly Commission for Parliament Buildings. (Photo William Cherry/ PressEye) | ©William Cherry / Presseye
Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has paid a personal tribute to Martin McGuinness as a friend and colleague who had a strong determination towards “building a better society’.

Mr Adams was speaking as he joined relatives, colleagues, activists and musicians from across the world to reflect on the life and legacy of the late former Joint First Minister on what would have been his 70th birthday on Saturday.

The online event featured contributions from among others Mr McGuinness’ widow, Bernie McGuinness and Rev. David Latimer. It also featured a series of powerhouse performances from Derry’s own Decky McLaughlin, Conor McGinty, Cara McGuinness and Ciara McCafferty, who sang a new ballad dedicated to Martin McGuinness, which was penned by Paul McGilloway and entitled ‘Where My Heart Will Always Be’.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Adams said he had reflected on “Martin the rebel, the Republican soldier, First Minister Designate along with Ian Paisley, the Derry man, the fly fisherman,” but would leave those aspects of Martin’s life “which are the big headlines” for others. “I just want to talk about Martin if I can as a friend, obviously very much as a loyal, long standing comrade, but particularly as a husband, as a son, as a father, a grandfather,” he said.

“I met him first in 1972, so reflecting on that, that’s coming up to 50 years ago. That’s a long time in a person’s life. He could be very dogmatic when he needed to be dogmatic and be very firm and assertive about his views and his beliefs, but essentially he was decent, he liked the very ordinary things that make life such a mystery. He loved Bernie. I’ve often said the best thing he did in his life was to marry Bernie Canning.”

Mr Adams said Martin had found contentment with his wife and family and was a proud of his children, grandchildren, parents and siblings. He also spoke of how he loved heading off early with friends to Dunlewey or other places to fish for sea trout, walking out the back road to Grianan of Aileach, “messing about the house trying to grow herbs, writing a bit of poetry”.

“If I was to remember Martin, the images that may come forward in my head might be in the middle of a heave by the old RUC against a crowd of mourners at a funeral, really dangerous events, or in Derry or Ardoyne or other places, or addressing Ard Fheisanna or meeting the great and the good... but the ones that really are valuable are Martin telling a joke. He was a very good at telling stories and jokes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“He loved people. Remarkably, through all of the difficulties that we all went through - those of us who lived and survived the Conflict - he remained very, very firm, but very open to former opponents or enemies, and that isn’t to say he didn’t resent what they had might have done or that he forgot what they might have done, but he knew it was about moving on, building partnerships, building equality, building a better society. He was also about the future.”