A police officer shot dead in a republican area of Londonderry on March 21, 1988, was just one of the deaths the former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness had deemed “appropriate”.
That was the message delivered by TUV leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister during Wednesday’s special sitting of the Stormont Assembly.
Speaking in a slow and emphatic style, amid a totally silent chamber, Mr Allister said Mr McGuinness’s death evoked sympathy for his family – just as anybody else’s would.
He added: “What’s different is he bears responsibility for many violent and needless deaths in our community.
“As an IRA terrorist and commander, his hands drip with the blood of the innocent.
“He goes to his grave having shown no remorse, no regret, no apology for the terror he brought to our streets, rather, continuing to justify the bloodthirsty wickedness that was the IRA campaign.”
He focused in particular on the date of March 21, when Mr McGuinness’ death was announced.
He noted that exactly 29 years earlier in west Londonderry, “a young police officer from my constituency, Constable Clive Graham, died”.
He went on: “He was murdered in the Creggan estate by the IRA, shot at a checkpoint.
“He never got the chance to live to 66, never got the chance to marry his girlfriend of the time. He never got the chance to see children and grandchildren. Why? Because a man of blood decided he would die.
“That, sadly, can be recited and recounted many times, because Mr McGuinness thought it appropriate not just to sanction and commit murder but to take those dark secrets with him, denying truth and justice to many of his IRA victims.”
According to the Troubles reference book ‘Lost Lives’, constable Graham was 25 and from Cloughmills.
It also states that another young man, carrying his baby son at the time, was also hit by a bullet in the attack.
According to an account from his mother in the book, constable Graham had joined the police “to get off the dole”.
He was considering emigrating at the time he died.
Mr Allister said Mr McGuinness’s “code of silence trumped his every posturing as a peacemaker”.
He concluded, in an apparent reference to a scene from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “I come to note the death of Martin McGuinness – but not to praise him.”