The sister of Dungiven hunger striker Kevin Lynch has paid tribute to Martin McGuinness describing his retirement from politics as “a huge loss”.
Bridie Lynch said her family has known the former deputy First Minister for more than 40 years and said he “always gave us support and encouragement through the most painful and difficult times.”
“I remember Martin at Kevin’s funeral and he kept in touch with our family over the years and has visited our house many times,” said Bridie.
“Martin led the people out of the struggle and into a new dispensation. This had to be his greatest contribution to us all. His dedication and determination to make peace work in our community, here in Dungiven, means the young people are able to go about their business, their play, their hurling and wear their jerseys without fear of intimidation. That wasn’t the way it was when we grew up in Dungiven and Kevin experienced this intimidation and fear first hand, which led to him becoming involved.
“Martin’s retirement is a huge loss to our society but Martin needs to take care of himself and spend time with his family. I want to thank Martin and Bernie and his family, and offer our prayers and best wishes.”
Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey said of Martin McGuinness: “What sums him up for me is when my brother Gerard died last December and Martin McGuinness took the time at quarter past 12 at night to ring me from his sick bed in hospital to say he was thinking of the family. I think that shows the calibre of Martin McGuinness. Throughout the years he was very supportive and always at the forefront with republican families. His retirement is a massive loss, definitely the end of an era.”
Former Sinn Fein MLA Francie Brolly said when he saw Martin McGuinness announce his resignation “we were devastated to see how sick he was.”
“I’m delighted he’s getting out of Stormont,” said Mr. Brolly. “From my own experience, if everything does start up again, after a few months he‘ll wonder why he stayed so long because it’s not a natural life. He’ll have such freedom to do the things he wants to. Martin will be remembered for what he’s done and he’ll be remembered with great affection. I wish him well and I hope he lives until he’s 100.”