20 January 2017
Stop talking rubbish Martin McGuinness and try saying sorry instead
Martin McGuinness during an interview with the Press Association at the Bishop's Gate Hotel in Londonderry, as the former Deputy First Minister announced that he is quitting elected politics to concentrate on recovering from serious health issues.
I wouldn't wish on anyone the suffering Martin McGuinness is enduring so stoically, and I sincerely hope it's being successfully alleviated, but I've nothing but contempt for his self-serving resignation statement.
It was full of lies and omissions.
Even when complimenting Presbyterians for contributing "democratic influences" to the Irish republican tradition in the 1790s, he misnamed the United Irishmen as the "United Ireland movement" and claimed Sinn Fein's "struggle for freedom and equality stretches back" to it.
The peaceable Sinn Fein party was founded in 1905, had nothing to do with the 1916 rebellion, but was a handy name adopted by republicans to fight the 1918 election. The reforms demanded by the civil rights movement were in place by 1972 and IRA/Sinn Fein had no interest in equality until in the 1980s and 90s, to save face, they began pretending that was what they had been fighting for.
Northern Ireland was not - as Mr McGuinness claims - an "apartheid state" where a "generation of Irish republicans… faced unrelenting repression and persecution from the Ulster Unionist party."
It was a place where an unimaginative, often bigoted, unionist establishment responded to the neighbouring state's claim on its territory, a sullen, angry nationalist minority and outbreaks of republican violence by developing a siege mentality and using gerrymandering and discrimination to strengthen its hold on power.
But it was also a place where every citizen was equal under the rule of law and shared educational and welfare benefits that were undreamt of in the Republic of Ireland. Another glaring omission came after his praise of his doctors and nurses. Somehow he forgot to mention the extraordinary work done by the NHS in caring for the tens of thousands of people injured physically and mentally by the bombs and guns of the IRA that Mr McGuinness led and praises at every opportunity. He tells us he "worked tirelessly" for 10 years to "make power-sharing work".
Er, no. He worked tirelessly for power-splitting.
Because Sinn Fein needs to convince the Republic's electorate it is now peaceful and constructive, Mr McGuinness has used his charisma and status as a ruthless IRA leader to keep republican hard men in line and his cunning and charm to maintain functional relationships with DUP leaders.
But his eye is always exclusively on party advantage. He predicts a future in which Sinn Fein will deliver "for all our people on the basis of equality, respect and integrity".
Integrity? It's an odd word from someone who defends more than 40 years of brutality and criminality, who led a terrorist organisation that demonised police, soldiers and Orangemen, and who as recently as 2004 approved the IRA's gigantic Northern Bank robbery.
Whatever some members of the DUP were up to with boilers and wood pellets, it's very small stuff compared to what was perpetrated by the corrupt movement of which Mr McGuinness is so proud.
He tells us that republicans are on a journey "to unite our people".
The way to do it is not through patronising, boastful and mendacious messages like this one.
Just try saying sorry.
Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic, was published by Oneworld Publications on March 22.
Ruth Dudley Edwards