Bogside proud Martin McGuinness 'was one of ours', says community worker

Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness

The Bogside is proud of Martin McGuinness, an influential community worker said.

Donncha Mac Niallais said the area's most famous resident was one of the most significant figures in Ireland for a century.

Mr Mac Niallais articulated local nationalist views during a successfully resolved parading dispute and now provides support services at Dove House in the heart of this close-knit district.

He said: "This area is really proud of people like Martin McGuinness.

"When we are burying Martin, we will do it with great sadness but also with a sense of pride that he was one of ours.

"He spent all his life in this area, between here and the Brandywell, he never left his roots.

"He will be missed."

Mr Mac Niallais works at the Dove House Community Trust, helping people access benefits, training and education courses.

He first met Mr McGuinness in 1986.

"He was a person who it was easy to have a conversation with and I frequently remember he would listen to different points of view and opinions, quietly and politely," said Mr Mac Niallais.

"He would conclude that this is what should happen, this is the way forward, but he never made you feel that he was telling you what to do.

"It was like he was giving you advice, that he was suggesting the best thing to do, but you always took that advice."

He said he could light up a room with his personal charm.

They did not share Mr McGuinness' love of fishing and Mr Mac Niallais recalled a long car journey with a vehicle full of enthusiasts.

"So the whole way up from Dublin, the conversation was about every river they passed and whether there was good trout in it," he said.

"And I have absolutely no interest at all in fishing, so it was the most boring journey of my life."

He joked: "I am sitting there going 'God, hurry up, break the speed limit, get me home'."

He said the Sinn Fein leader's political contribution had been immense and laid firm foundations for progress on addressing the legacy of those killed or injured during the conflict.

"But no foundations can be so firm that they might never crumble," he said.

He claimed the Conservatives did not appreciate the damage Brexit could do to the peace process and alleged unionists were not prepared to reciprocate Mr McGuinness' conciliatory gestures as power-sharing talks run out of time.

He said: "So the sooner they come to terms with the new realities, the sooner we can get the institutions back up and running."

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