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We Need To Talk About Martin
His entry into the Presidential race came as a bombshell, throwing many political commentators, as well as the Fine Gael party, into a tailspin. It has also been the catalyst to a surge in support in the opinion polls for Sinn Féin. So who is Martin McGuinness? What is he like as a man? And can a self-confessed former IRA leader convince the Irish peope that he has what it takes to be the President?
Olaf Tyaransen, 21 Oct 2011
You don’t drink at all, do you?
I very rarely take a glass of red wine with a meal. I don’t go to bars or anything like because if you go to bars then everyone wants to tell you how to win the struggle. Your head would be fried.
Do you still have serious security concerns?
I don’t have any serious concerns at all. I have no protection whatsoever. I could have a PSNI armoured car and drivers if I wanted them, but I’ve never availed of it.
Outside your time in the IRA, have you ever carried a gun for protection?
Never. I’ve never even applied to get a gun. I live in the Bogside and I walk out of my own house, out past Free Derry Corner and into the city centre, go with my son, go with my grandchildren. I don’t have any concerns. That doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t people out there who would like to take your life. That’s something that I live with, but it’s not going to put me off leading a normal life. I’m not going to live like a prisoner.
Are you a religious man?
I believe that there’s a God. I was born into a Catholic family. My father and mother were both deeply religious. But I’m a very broad-minded Catholic and someone who respects all people’s religions and respects the rights of those people who have no religion whatsoever. Five years ago, I got to know Reverend David Latimer of First Derry Presbyterian Church, and David was in dire straits at the time. His church is a magnificent building, but in a terrible state of disrepair. It was a disaster area, really, and they had to leave it and go to other churches in the city. It sits right on Derry walls. I can see it from the back of my house. He desperately was trying to raise the funds to get the church re-opened, and I assisted in it. It took a couple of million to do it, but we done it and, cut a long story short, just a couple of months ago... I’m probably the first member of Sinn Fein in modern times to have been invited to speak to his congregation on the day that it opened, which I did do, and it was an absolutely fantastic occasion.