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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
Oh yes, I love it. All sorts of music. Very wide ranged from pop music to classical music to Irish traditional music.
How about literature? Are you into books?
Huge fan of Seamus Heaney. I love poetry. I also write the odd poem.
So between you and Michael D, there’s two poets in the running for the Áras...
Yeah, but I wouldn’t even attempt to pitch myself against any other poet. I do it for fun.
Do you write in Irish?
No, in English. Gerry Adams printed one of my poems in one of his books and The Sunday Times sent it to the professors of literature at Cambridge and Oxford. The guy at Cambridge said he didn’t like the one-word constant on the last couple of lines, but the guy in Oxford said it was “perfectly splendid” (laughs).
Can you quote me a line or two?
Well, actually I wrote this in ten minutes. We were delayed, sitting on the runway at Kennedy Airport in New York and whatever way the sun was falling behind the World Trade Center and the skyscrapers, I just thought of a line. It’s a very short poem. Have you ever seen a Manhattan sunset from the window of an Aer lingus jet?
Yeah, I have.
No, this is the poem! (laughs). “Have you ever seen a Manhattan sunset from the window of an Aer Lingus jet? /Gloriously crimson it was/ blackening awesome skyscrapers/ slipping towards Montana/ far away from Bloody Foreland.”
It’s…not bad (shrugs modestly).
What’s your stance on US rendition flights passing through Ireland?
Let me start off by saying this. What happened at the World Trade Center was atrocious. A lot of people that I knew were affected by what happened on the day. Father Michael Judge, chaplain to the New York Fire Department, was a friend of mine, and he lost his life at the World Trade Center. He had been with us in Belfast on quite a number of occasions, and he used to come with an injured New York Police Department detective, Stephen McDonald, who had been shot in a robbery in New York. And Stephen is also a good friend of ours, but Stephen is confined to a wheelchair and very badly incapacitated, so the two of them used to come together. They were huge fans of the peace process and liked to meet with people who they knew were trying to make a difference. So it was absolutely terrible.