Martin McGuinness “put his neck on the line” when he condemned dissidents as traitors, the widow of the first murdered PSNI officer has said.
The former IRA man took a huge step in making a public statement denouncing those behind the killing, Constable Stephen Carroll’s wife Kate said.
The officer was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon in March 2009.
The murder came just days after a Real IRA gun attack claimed the lives of English sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21 at Massereene Army base.
Mr McGuinness, speaking as deputy first minister, received a death threat after branding the killers “traitors to the island of Ireland”.
Following the news that Mr McGuinness is leaving frontline politics, Mrs Carroll paid tribute to someone she said had made “great efforts to bring about change”. She told the Press Association: “I think he put his neck on the line at that particular time, to say that.
“It ruffled a few feathers. It clearly touched a nerve with the dissidents. That’s obvious from the fact that he did receive a death threat soon after.”
Mrs Carroll, who first met Mr McGuinness when he visited her Banbridge home to pay his respects alongside then first minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson, acknowledged not everyone will remember the politician in such a positive light. She said: “I think everybody is entitled to their opinion. We all have our own mindset and we are all allowed to do our own thinking.
“All I can say is what I saw of him – and from what I saw he was trying very, very hard to make that difference.
“I just hope that whoever takes his place will have the same mindset as him, that they will have the people’s interests at heart.”