- 05 Apr 17
In 2011, Jason O’Toole carried out an interview with Martin McGuinness that was never published. Here, we draw on that interview, as well others conducted for Hot Press, to paint a fascinating picture of the late leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, in all of his complications.
Walking home late one evening in the early 1970s, Martin McGuinness noticed a silhouette hovering under the lamppost at the foot of his street in the Bogside. He was initially apprehensive. When he realised it was his Donegal-born mother, Peggy, he smiled. The grin soon vanished from Martin’s baby-face.
Without uttering a word, Peggy took his military Sam Browne belt and IRA beret out of her apron pocket. She had discovered them earlier that day under his mattress. Peggy belted him up the road to the family’s home, as she pleaded with him to stay away from the armed struggle. “She was very worried and annoyed,” Martin said.
But the future IRA leader went on to break his mother’s heart again – and again. In his tribute to Martin McGuinness, when the former IRA leader’s death was announced on March 21, Gerry Adams observed that Martin McGuinness didn’t go to war – war came to him. “I would rather have lived an ordinary life. I didn’t choose this life,” McGuinness himself insisted. But that he ended up with a gun in his hand is not in dispute.