Martin McGuinness, a former 'hardline' Irish Republican Army (IRA) commander turned politician, has died aged 66, after a short illness allied to a rare heart disease.
McGuinness become deputy first minister of Northern Ireland after turning peace-maker and took a prominent role in bringing peace to N. Ireland.
He never once apologised for his terrorist past, and was never charged with some 18 murders, the authorities are said to have evidence of, indeed towards the end of 'the troubles' McGuiness was briefly captured by a British Army unit in Belfast but his release was ordered by Whitehall due to 'a peace negotiation' that was underway. This information came from a Major Napier, (now deceased) a former D-Day beach Commander, and later with the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
Martin McGuinness was a hard line IRA commander who was responsible for, and ordered hundreds of killings, but then it has to be acknowledged, used his skills and hardline influence to broker a peace within Northern Ireland. He never ever, apologised for his terrorist activities and never set foot inside the House of Commons, as he was later entitled to. as an MP. HM The Queen later shook hands with Mc Guinness.
His partnership at the top of Stormont's power-sharing administration with fundamentalist unionist leader the Rev Ian Paisley would have been unthinkable in the days when republican bombs were ripping Northern Ireland and Great Britain's major cities to shreds and in the process costing thousands of lives.
Mr McGuinness was the extremist who once defended the slaughter of police and soldiers for a united Ireland but finally offered the hand of friendship to Britain and to unionists and toasted the Queen.
His partnership with the DUP leader as deputy first minister at Stormont was an example of peacemaking - of turning swords into ploughshares - and in 2009 he dubbed dissident republicans who killed a police officer as traitors to Ireland.
The Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday in 1972 fudged the issue by suggesting McGuinness "probably" carried a sub-machine gun during the massacre of 13 unarmed civil rights protesters by soldiers in Londonderry. He admitted to being second-in-command of the Provisionals that day.
The bluntly-spoken young man was a ruthless proponent of republican violence, which caused more than half of the 3,600 killings between 1969 and 1998, in opposition to British rule in Northern Ireland but became a senior member of Sinn Fein as the conflict neared its end.
He was integral to nearly every major decision taken by the republican movement over the last 30 years, promising to lead it to a united Ireland. He did not succeed.
The former butcher from the Bogside in Derry, who was a man of action during the street fighting of the 1970s
But critics argued that just as the IRA should have halted the violence a lot sooner, Mr McGuinness could have met the British head of state earlier.
His final significant act was to resign as deputy first minister and take first minister Arlene Foster with him, ending a decade of testy coalition government with the DUP.
Mr McGuinness was born in 1950 in a terraced house in Londonderry's Bogside housing estate, a one-time no-go area for soldiers and hotbed of IRA planning and activity.
He was educated at the local Christian Brothers school.
Unlike Gerry Adams, who came from a traditional hard-line republican family, Mr McGuinness showed little interest in politics before the start of the Troubles.
Nor did he join the IRA until after the British Army had been sent to Northern Ireland in August 1969 to restore order after a pitched battle between the RUC and inhabitants of the Bogside.
He was sufficiently highly regarded to be one of the IRA delegation flown to London to talk to Willie Whitelaw, the first-ever Northern Ireland secretary.
The republican was sentenced to six months in prison in the Republic of Ireland after being caught in a car containing large quantities of explosives and ammunition.
Mr McGuinness has said he left the IRA in 1974.
Other accounts suggested he was made chief of staff of the organisation in 1978 and streamlined it into an urban guerrilla force based on small, tightly-controlled cells.
Former Irish justice minister Michael McDowell said he was a member of its ruling Army Council.
In 1997 he was elected Mid Ulster MP but did not take his seat as he would not swear an oath to the Queen, but he did bank the allowances that came with the position....
As Sinn Fein's chief negotiator of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement he helped establish the powersharing institutions and renounced violence.
In 1999 he became education minister at the Assembly who was to scrap the transfer test at age 11, part of a power-sharing coalition of unionists and Irish nationalists at Stormont.
The DUP refused to work with him because of his chequered past.
By 2005 the Provisionals decommissioned arms after Mr McGuinness led negotiations - a process which started with the armed group vowing to volunteer not an ounce of explosives.
By 2007 Sinn Fein had pledged support for the police force and Ian Paisley, the fiery preacher of "never", was prepared as leader of the largest party to enter government with Sinn Fein.
When the Queen visited Dublin that year the veteran republican was absent but by June 2012 he was ready to meet her. They shook hands at a Belfast theatre and Mr McGuinness said the encounter was "a result of decades of work constructing the Irish peace process".
In 2014 he attended a banquet at Windsor Castle as part of a state visit by the Irish president and joined in a toast to the monarch.
In 2013 he travelled to Warrington to speak at the invitation of Colin and Wendy Parry, whose son Tim was killed by an IRA bomb, to acknowledge their pain.
But he enjoyed more strained relationships with Mr Paisley's successor as First Minister at Stormont, Peter Robinson, as the joint office was embroiled in controversy over property dealings.
Difficulties also surfaced over welfare reform, investigating thousands of conflict deaths and a green energy scheme which is predicted to be £490 million overspent.
After Mr McGuinness gave first minister Arlene Foster an ultimatum to step aside, which was ignored, he announced his resignation in January 2017.
He is survived by his wife Bernie and four children
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