The son of an Irish soldier murdered by the IRA has spoken of his “immense relief” after the late Martin McGuinness missed out on a prestigious peace award.
The former deputy first minister and Sinn Fein veteran, who passed away in March, was one of six nominees shortlisted for the Tipperary Peace Award, which includes the likes of Nelson Mandela among its past winners.
Relatives of IRA victims had been deeply critical of the inclusion of Mr McGuinness on the shortlist, with calls for the former IRA commander’s name to be removed.
This week, it was announced that the award would be given to a group of rescue workers known as the Syria Civil Defence (White Helmets) .
Following the announcement, David Kelly, whose father Private Patrick Kelly was killed by the IRA in Co Leitrim in 1983, told of his “relief” at the outcome.
Mr Kelly told the News Letter yesterday: “A lot of people were very disturbed that Martin McGuinness could have potentially won this award for peace, considering he was part of an organisation responsible for so murdering so many people, including my father.
“The thought that he could have won this peace award has put me through emotional agony, so I am very glad to hear that it will be going someone else.”
Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United said “right has prevailed” for victims.
He also paid tribute to the “genuine peace efforts” of the Syrian Civil Defence, describing the group as “worthy winners”.
He added: “The winners of the award, the White Helmets exist to save and preserve life, while Martin McGuinness commanded a terrorist organisation that stole the lives of its’ neighbours, Protestant, Roman Catholic and dissenter”.
In a statement, the Tipperary Peace Convention said the award is “a testament to the enormous bravery and courage shown” by the White Helmets, who have saved more than 100,000 people, while 192 of the unarmed volunteers have lost their lives.
The White Helmets will pick up the accolade at Ballykisteen Hotel, Tipperary on Wednesday, September 6.