Martin McGuinness: Wikis


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Martin McGuinness
Máirtín Mag Aonghusa

Assumed office 
8 May 2007
First Minister Ian Paisley
Peter Robinson
Arlene Foster (acting)
Preceded by Mark Durkan

In office
November 1998 – 8 May 2007
First Minister David Trimble
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Caitríona Ruane

Member of Parliament
for Mid Ulster
Assumed office 
1 May 1997
Preceded by William McCrea
Majority 10,976 (24.2%)

Assumed office 
25 June 1998
Preceded by Constituency created

Born 23 May 1950 (1950-05-23) (age 59)
Derry, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Sinn Féin
Spouse(s) Bernadette McGuinness
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Martin McGuinness MP MLA

James Martin Pacelli McGuinness (Irish: Máirtín Mag Aonghusa;[2] born 23 May 1950) is an Irish politician and the current deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

A Sinn Féin politician and former Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) leader[3], McGuinness is the MP for the Mid Ulster constituency. Like all Sinn Féin MPs, McGuinness practises abstentionism at Westminster. He is also a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the same constituency. Following the St Andrews Agreement and the Assembly election in 2007, he became deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland with Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley as First Minister of Northern Ireland on 8 May 2007. He was re-appointed, with Peter Robinson as First Minister, on 5 June 2008.[4] He served as Minister of Education in the Northern Ireland Executive between 1999 and 2002.


Provisional IRA activity

McGuinness joined the IRA around 1970 at the age of 20, after the Troubles broke out. He originally joined the Official IRA unaware of the split at the December 1969 Army Convention. He shortly switched to the Provisional IRA. By the start of 1972, at the age of 21, he was second-in-command of the IRA in Derry, a position he held at the time of Bloody Sunday.[5] A claim was made at the Saville Inquiry that McGuinness was responsible for supplying detonators for nail bombs on Bloody Sunday where 14 civil rights marchers were killed by British soldiers in Derry. Paddy Ward claimed he was the leader of the Fianna, the youth wing of the IRA in January 1972. He claimed McGuinness, the second-in-command of the IRA in the city at the time, and another anonymous member gave him bomb parts on the morning of 30 January, the date planned for the civil rights march. He said his organisation intended to attack city-centre premises in Derry on the day when civilians were shot dead by British soldiers. In response McGuinness said the claims were "fantasy", while Gerry O’Hara, a Sinn Féin councillor in Derry stated that he and not Ward was the Fianna leader at the time.[6]

McGuinness negotiated alongside Gerry Adams with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Willie Whitelaw, in 1972. He was convicted by the Republic of Ireland's Special Criminal Court in 1973, after being caught with a car containing 250 lb (113 kg) of explosives and nearly 5,000 rounds of ammunition. He refused to recognize the court, and was sentenced to six months imprisonment. In the court he declared his membership of the Provisional Irish Republican Army without equivocation: 'We have fought against the killing of our people... I am a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann and very, very proud of it'.[7]

After his release, and another conviction in the Republic for IRA membership, he became increasingly prominent in Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Republican Movement. He was in indirect contact with British intelligence during the hunger strikes in the early 1980s, and in the early 1990s.[8] He was elected to a short-lived assembly at Stormont in 1982, representing Londonderry. He was the second candidate elected after John Hume. As with all elected members of Sinn Féin and the SDLP, he did not take up his seat.[9] On 9 December 1982 McGuinness, Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison were banned from entering Great Britain under the Prevention of Terrorism Act by British Home Secretary William Whitelaw.[10]

In August 1993, he was the subject of a two part special by the The Cook Report, a Central TV investigative documentary series presented by Roger Cook. It accused him of continuing involvement in IRA activity, of attending an interrogation and of encouraging Frank Hegarty, an informer, to return to Derry from a safe house in England. Hegarty's mother Rose appeared on the programme to tell of telephone calls to McGuinness and of Hegarty's subsequent murder. McGuinness denied her account and denounced the programme saying "I have never been in the IRA. I don't have any sway over the IRA".[11]

In 2005, Michael McDowell, the Irish Tánaiste, claimed McGuinness, along with Gerry Adams and Martin Ferris, were members of the seven-man IRA Army Council.[12] McGuinness denied the claims, saying he was no longer an IRA member.

Experienced "Troubles" journalist Peter Taylor presented further apparent evidence of McGuinness's role in the IRA in his documentary Age of Terror, shown in April 2008.[13] In his documentary, Taylor alleges that McGuinness was the head of the IRA's Northern Command which had advance knowledge of the IRA's 1987 Enniskillen bombing which left 11 civilians dead.

Chief negotiator and Minister of Education

He became Sinn Féin's chief negotiator in the time leading to the Belfast Agreement. He was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum in 1996 representing Foyle. Having contested Foyle unsuccessfully at the 1983, 1987 and 1992 Westminster elections, he became MP for Mid Ulster in 1997 and after the Agreement was concluded, was returned as a member of the Assembly for the same constituency, and nominated by his party for a ministerial position in the power-sharing executive, where he became Minister of Education. One of his controversial acts as Minister of Education was his decision to scrap the 11-plus exam, which he himself had failed as a schoolchild.[14] He was re-elected to the Westminster Parliament in 2001 and 2005, but along with the rest of his party has refused to take his seat due to the party's abstentionism policy.

In May 2003, transcripts of telephone calls between McGuinness and British officials including Mo Mowlam, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's Chief of Staff, were published in a biography of McGuinness entitled From Guns to Government. The tapes had been made by MI5 and the authors of the book were arrested under the Official Secrets Act. The conversations showed an easy and friendly relationship between McGuinness and the British. He joked with Powell about Unionist MPs while Mowlam referred to him as "babe" and discussed her difficulties with Blair. In another transcript he praised Bill Clinton to Gerry Adams.[15]

St Andrews Agreement

United States President Barack Obama meets with First Minister Peter Robinson and McGuinness in March 2009

In the weeks following the St Andrews Agreement between Paisley and Adams, the four parties — the DUP, Sinn Féin, the UUP and the SDLP — indicated their choice of ministries in the Executive and nominated members to fill them. The Assembly met on 8 May 2007 and Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were nominated as First Minister and Deputy First Minister. On 12 May the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle agreed to take up three places on the Policing Board, and nominated three MLAs to take them.

On 8 December 2007, while visiting President Bush in the White House with the Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness, the deputy First Minister, said to the press "Up until the 26 March this year, Ian Paisley and I never had a conversation about anything – not even about the weather – and now we have worked very closely together over the last seven months and there's been no angry words between us. ... This shows we are set for a new course."[16][17]

Personal life

McGuinness was born in Derry. He married Bernadette Canning in 1974. They have four children, two girls and two boys. McGuinness is a fan of the Derry Gaelic football and hurling teams[18] and played both sports when he was younger.[18] He grew up just 50 yards from Celtic Park, the home of Derry GAA.[18] His brother[18] Tom played Gaelic football for Derry and is regarded as one of the county's best ever players.[19] Among his honours are three Ulster Senior Football Championship medals, as well as Ulster Under 21 and All-Ireland Under 21 Championship medals.[20]

McGuinness is also a fan of Derry City FC[21]

McGuinness is also a keen fisherman.[22]

See also


  1. ^ About the Department Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
  2. ^ Ag cur Gaeilge ar ais i mbéal an phobail - Fórógra Shinn Féin do na Toghcháin WestminsterSinn Féin press release, released 22 April 2005.
  3. ^ Profile BBC News]
  4. ^ "Robinson is new NI first minister", BBC News, 5 June 2008; Accessed 5 June 2008
  5. ^ McGuinness confirms IRA role BBC News, 2 May 2001
  6. ^ McGuinness is named as bomb runner by John Innes, The Scotsman, 21 October 2003
  7. ^ Taylor, Peter (1997). Provos The IRA & Sinn Féin. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 152–153. ISBN 0-7475-3818-2. 
  8. ^ Setting the Record Straight Sinn Féin
  9. ^ Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government by Liam Clarke and Kathryn Johnston (ISBN 1-84018-725-5), pages 152-153
  10. ^ Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government by Liam Clarke and Kathryn Johnston (ISBN 1-84018-725-5), page 155
  11. ^ Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government by Liam Clarke and Kathryn Johnston (ISBN 1-84018-725-5), page 222
  12. ^ Adams and McGuinness named as IRA leaders Daily Telegraph, 21 February 2005
  13. ^ Age of Terror, BBC News, 21 April 2008
  14. ^ McGuinness: Let's work together BBC News, 4 December 1999
  15. ^ Martin McGuinness Wiretap Transcripts
  16. ^ Paisley and McGuinness in US trip BBC News, 3 December 2007
  17. ^ Martina Purdy 'Charming' ministers woo president BBC News, 8 December 2007
  18. ^ a b c d McGuinness, Martin (26 August 2001). "Fanzone - Martin McGuinness". Irish Independent. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  19. ^ "Ulster's 125 - Derry shortlist". The Irish News. 10 February 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2009. 
  20. ^ "Derry Greats - Tom McGuinness", Red Hand View - Tyrone vs Derry (National League Division 1 Round 6 programme) (A-Star Design), 28 March 2009 
  21. ^ Campbell, Denis. "My team - Derry City: An interview with Martin McGuinness", The Guardian, 8 April 2001; Retrieved on 8 May 2007
  22. ^ Hardliners vent their fury at Martin McGuinness The Guardian, 14 March 2009

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William McCrea
Member of Parliament for Mid Ulster
Northern Ireland Assembly
Preceded by
Newly created position
Member of the Legislative Assembly for Mid Ulster
Political offices
Preceded by
Newly created office
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Office suspended
Preceded by
Office suspended
Minister of Education
Succeeded by
Office suspended
Preceded by
Office suspended
Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland

Simple English

File:MartinMcGuinness (cropped).jpg
Martin McGuiness is the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

James Martin Pacelli McGuinness (born May 23, 1950 in Derry, Northern Ireland) is an Irish politician who is the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. He is a member of Sinn Fein, which is a political party that wants Northern Ireland to join with the Republic of Ireland and leave the United Kingdom. He is the Member of Parliament and Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the constituency of Mid Ulster.

Martin McGuiness joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1970 and was put in prison for six months in 1973. He was elected the Member of Parliament for Mid-Ulster at the 1997 General Election but never took his seat in the House of Commons. This is because Sinn Fein members do not want to swear any oath to the Queen. McGuiness was one of Sinn Fein's top debaters at the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and was elected as a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembely in 1998 for the constituency of Mid Ulster. He was the Minister of Education in the Northern Ireland executive from 1999 to 2002. On May 8 2007, following the St. Andrew's Agreement Martin McGuiness was made the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party was the First Minister until June 5, 2008 when he was replaced by Peter Robinson.


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