‘Martin McGuinness’s Funeral: A Solemn Epitaph of Unity’ by Donal Lavery

Picture by Derry Journal
Anyone who watches the footage of the late Martin McGuinness’ funeral cannot but feel moved in some way, not just at a great life cut short, but the reaction he generated in death. The doors and Church grounds were packed with Presidents, Taoisigh, Parliamentarians of all parties, senior Orangemen, First Ministers, Unionist Ministers, Republicans and ordinary working class people – both young and old. The mood was a touching tribute to a patriot steeped in the Irish conscience.

But the most striking thing about it all was that for the first time since partition, the Irish people as a whole were reunited, albeit in grief. There was no bickering or religious and political divide, we came together as one community, one society and one nation, under God. Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. All the differences of the past were set aside in the national interest, with the flag flying at half mast in condolence. It was broadcast on every news channel around the world and sparked a global response of sheer awe. Old enemies were now displaying friendship before the eyes of the nation at large, bringing a tear to even the most hardened of eyes. A man laid bare who in his youth, and with boyhood’s fire, read of Ancient Freemen; of Greece and of Rome, in the spirit of Tone.

There are of course the ‘intrigues’ out there, like Mr Eamonn McCann and others, who vent their bitter frame of mind towards the deceased in their petty scribblings in Establishment tabloids; blissfully unaware that if such a tragedy had happened to them, they would receive no such grand gestures across this island and the world. Martin McGuiness was a better and more courageous man than you’ll ever be, Mr McCann. And unlike most, he had the patience to tolerate lesser quality people such as yourself. Unlike you, he had the nerve to act where you had the reservation of sheer rhetoric in a climate of injustice. Someone who’s preoccupation is arguing it out with fellow Marxists over who is somehow more “left-wing” is not a man who can be relied upon to lead a nation. Martin’s legacy lives on while your political career is finished; and not short enough it was.

But the point I’m getting at is this – Whatever the ‘obscurantists’ say, what we witnessed was a preview of what a real green, white and orange nation reconciled would be like; that all the misfortunes of the past would be set aside when both traditions rise above the artificial differences that have been fostered by an alien government. That we, as a small sovereign, have the capacity to punch well above our weight globally and demonstrate to the planet a Platonic conception of a real Republic at peace with itself. That’s a lasting and powerful thought. So don’t think of McGuinness in terms of frail images and how he died; emulate in your own work how he lived.


27 Responses to ‘Martin McGuinness’s Funeral: A Solemn Epitaph of Unity’ by Donal Lavery

  1. giordanobruno April 24, 2017 at 10:20 am #

    Since McGuinness was a leading member of an organisation which killed around 1800 people including civilians and children, Irish British and others, I would say most definitely do not emulate how he lived the early part of his life.
    As far as I know Eamonn McCann has not been involved in the taking of any lives.

  2. James April 24, 2017 at 10:36 am #

    Gio, with respect, it is amazing, considering the many thousands of people who turned out for Martin’s funeral, that they are all out of step except you. Martin’s legacy will live on in a free and united Ireland long after you and I have departed this mortal coil.

    • giordanobruno April 24, 2017 at 11:25 am #

      Do you think the mourners were celebrating his work as a politician which I applaud and respect, or his time in the IRA?
      Do you think we should emulate his early years too?

  3. Eolach April 24, 2017 at 11:02 am #

    Giordanobruno , is it déjà vu or my psychic powers ….I knew a post from yourself would appear and I knew its content….ach it’s maybe only that you’re very predictable and that your bombastic rhetoric was anticipated. Your irk and thinly veiled loathing had been noted before….if you were as ready with your condemnation of the source and continual scourge of Ireland’s problems…..if perhaps you could imagine yourself walking in the shoes of your perceived adversaries for only one day then , possibly , you could learn enough to move on.

    • giordanobruno April 24, 2017 at 11:38 am #

      Apart from slagging me off personally (Jude doesn’t like it) is there anything in my post you actually disagree with.?
      As for moving on maybe you should address that to Donal as he is the one harking back to the glory days of Martin McGuinness’s great life.
      Why he even gets a bit poetical over it such is his admiration for that boyhood fire .
      As usual no mention of those who were on the receiving end of that boyhood fire.

  4. James April 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

    Thanks for the reply Gio. Let me try and answer the questions you posed. First of all I would not dream of trying to tease out the many reasons of why so many people attended Martin’s funeral. A few words come to mind, honesty, integrity, honour and valour. It is rare that all these qualities come together in one person, so it is quite easy to see why he got such a great send off.
    On the question of his earlier activities, when you are beaten off the streets for demanding basic civil rights, a lot of people will keep their heads down. Not so with Martin, He led from the front and look around you Gio, even you must admit the future for the republican and nationalist people is looking brighter with each passing day. Surprisingly it is getting better for those of a unionist minded disposition, but they just do not realise it yet. Equality benefits everyone, orange and green. We all have a part to play in the coming united Irelamd.

    • giordanobruno April 24, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

      Thank you for your thoughts.
      The issue of reacting to being beaten off the streets is one thing.
      Following that reaction by pursuing 30 years of bombing and shooting often directed at easy targets is another thing altogether.
      Frequently I see tributes to McGuinness along these lines.
      He was left with no choice it usually goes, but to react to British brutality to defend his community.
      From there the details are quickly passed over until we reach his time many years later, as a peacemaker.
      It is the intervening part I have trouble with.
      The bit no-one wants to talk about.

      • emmet April 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

        It started with beating protestors of the streets , but escalated quickly, interment, mass murder and collusion. As usual Gio you dismiss British violence, as if Martin just was angry for 30 years over being beaten off the streets.

        • giordanobruno April 24, 2017 at 3:10 pm #

          I am not dismissing anything at all.
          I am trying to point out the actual reality of what Martin and his comrades did.
          When I read misty eyed prose like Donal’s about ‘boyhood’s fire’ and global awe then it seems necessary to point out the harsh reality.
          Patsy Gillespie and Joanne Mathers are only the 2 most obvious names of those burned in that boyhood fire.
          Names that I cannot see in Donal’s piece.

          • Emmet April 25, 2017 at 6:35 am #

            Thankfully the murders you mention were the exception rather than the norm of the republican armed strategy or we would be looking at 10,000s of deaths. The harsh reality is that more republicans were killed than any other group (proportionately) so you don’t need to lecture republicans on loss. Martin lost a lot if friends and comrades to British violence and we don’t even mention them every time we talk about the past. Are you calling for Teresa May to acknowledge the victims of British terrorism every time she talks about Britain? You really think the IRA went for easy targets most of the time?? This is nonsense- even the British acknowledge most of the IRA activities were aimed at military targets. Also, with the militarization of the north there weren’t really any easy targets. I seen statistics someone that showed the ratio of British personnel against the number of Catholic males between the age of 16-65, the ratio was shocking (I think it was 1:4)

          • giordanobruno April 25, 2017 at 9:27 am #

            Yes we should be thankful the IRA did not kill more people, that was good of them.
            The IRA who you so admire were indeed fond of easy targets.
            Civilians, off duty UDR men feeding their cattle or eating dinner with their families,informers (alleged) children caught in petty crime and so on.
            But you are trying to widen the discussion as people always do when there is a risk of getting to specifics.
            I am simply looking an acknowledgement, when the life of Martin McGuinness is being appraised, that he was involved directly or indirectly in some horrendous activities.
            Was the life of Joanne Mathers of less value than the life of Martin McGuinness?

          • Emmet April 25, 2017 at 10:51 am #

            All lives are equal, at least as far as I can tell. Gio, most IRA attacks were against soldiers. If they were fond of easy targets they would have hit more. Why are you appraising the life of Martin McGuinness? Why are you bringing Joanne Mathers into it? I am not going to appraise her life or her life choices on here because that would be highly disrespectful. You have no respect Gio. You still can’t say what you stand for- now that is something I would like to appraise. You seem like you are stuck in the past.

            Now loyalists, they did go for easy targets. The parachute regiment opened up on crowds of unarmed civilians (just like other regiments of the Brit army have). Right now the British are hitting easy targets in Syria. Your fundamentalist outlook is worrying Gio, modern life must be difficult.

          • giordanobruno April 25, 2017 at 11:02 am #

            I don’t know what my fundamentalist outlook is nor why you are bringing up the British in Syria.
            Well I do actually as it is just a standard piece of deflection!
            Donal’s piece was about Martin McGuinness,that is why I am appraising Martin McGuinness.
            Donal was full of poetic praise but he omitted some important details about that life which I sought to point out.
            I am only pointing out some of his great achievements
            Are you not proud of what he did in the IRA?

          • Emmet April 25, 2017 at 11:13 am #

            I am proud of what he did for Ireland. You brought up ‘easy targets’ I am just pointing out that the Brits who you have never criticized hit easy targets all the time. Look at the proportion of republicans killed and tell me about easy targets- are you blinded by hatred that you can see there was no easy operations in such a militarized place? Even the British have acknowledged the IRA as a highly motivated, professional and effective organization. Most of their activity reflects this.

            I don’t know what your outlook is but your fundamentalism is clear. What great achievements are you talking about? Have you some knowledge of Martin’s life that the rest of us mere mortals don’t? You also mention the UDR, do you support all the killings they carried out?
            You won’t expose what you believe in because of your fundamentalism. Your world must have collapsed when you saw the international recognition for Martin McGuinness’s sacrifices and work for peace. You need to resolve your issues somehow or the world will leave you behind.

          • giordanobruno April 25, 2017 at 11:31 am #

            I don’t know if you actually read what people write but it doesn’t look like it.
            I have praised the political work McGuinness did on numerous occasions,including on this thread.
            I have criticised the British military actions both in Ireland and broad many times in the past but it is not the topic we are discussing.
            You say you are proud of what he did for Ireland yet you do not want to talk about what he actually did.
            I feel no pride in the deaths he and his comrades were responsible for.
            Is that what you are proud of?

          • emmet April 25, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

            Gio, to be honest I don’t read the same things you read obviously. I was talking more about international opinion. There are people like you writing in the BT, Newsletter etc. So I am sure there was negative commentary there. Stay with your narrow view of history if you like. At some stage I hope you can let go of the dark past and look to the future. Until then, good luck.

          • Wolfe tone April 25, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

            “I have criticised the British military actions both in Ireland and broad many times in the past but it is not the topic we are discussing.”

            Nope sorry that’s not entirely true. In fact if I hadn’t got a life I could easily produce the evidence that most of your criticisms on this forum are aimed at Irish republicanism in one way or another. Btw, seeing as you are willing to criticise ‘British military actions’ will you also criticise British interference I.e British state policy of, say, involving itself in foreign countries such as, say, Ireland? Put it bluntly, do you find it objectionable that successive British regimes should have anything to do with Ireland(that’s the entire island of Ireland btw)?

          • giordanobruno April 25, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

            I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition!
            Your logic is flawed. Because I have generally been critical of physical force republicanism (not Irish republicanism) does not mean I have not also been critical of British actions.
            Since I am in favour of a united Ireland yes I would prefer if British regimes had nothing to do with Ireland.

  5. Eolach April 24, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

    Giordanobruno , ok I may have had a small jibe at you…nothing too serious , the real point in my post was to encourage you to examine all points of view. Unionists or pro- British people tend to have a negative and narrow tunnel vision finding Republicianism or even Irishness as the one and only source of all our ills….We , Martin and the rest of us, didn’t bring this upon ourselves….I’m sure you have a knowledge of recent history so Ill not elaborate….when peaceful Civil Rights marches were met with brutal violence and murder the ball game changed….enough was enough ! …we decided to take what was rightfully ours – we wanted our country back ….and Unionist/British murder and mayhem swelled the ranks , it was a war and as such there were casualties …on all sides….some terrible deeds, but again on all sides….War is brutal , viscous and demeaning but we are the suvivors …so now it’ time to build the peace , not with recriminations and blame but by working together….as Martin showed.

  6. giordanobruno April 24, 2017 at 3:17 pm #

    As I said above to emmet I am not overlooking any points of view.
    The tunnel vision belongs to those who sing the praise of Martin McGuinness as a great man who lived life well, and tell his story as though he went straight from street protests to peacemaker with no unpleasantness in between.
    You say there were terrible deeds which were brutal and demeaning.
    Did the great man Martin McGuinness commit any terrible deeds, anything brutal and demeaning?
    Should those deeds be remembered as part of his great life do you think?

  7. Eolach April 24, 2017 at 4:43 pm #

    Gio…you refuse to countenance any opinion but your own…you’re obdurate to the detriment of yourself…..Remain who you are ,it’s immaterial to me , but your world ……still inhabited by demons from the past will torment you……I understand and accept that no-one ,not any of us are without fault , we make mistakes ……but I’m intelligent enough to recognize that I’m not the judge nor jury on or for any other human being…..alive or dead !

    • giordanobruno April 24, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

      That is plainly untrue.
      I have asked you for your opinion on the deeds McGuinness was responsible for during his time in the IRA,but you are seemingly reluctant to give it.
      I do know that some will admire what he did even if they are reluctant to say so and I will not change their opinion.
      All I am hoping for is some acknowledgement amidst the praise that those things actually happened under his watch and just possibly that not all his deeds were great and admirable.

      • Eolach April 25, 2017 at 9:12 am #

        Gio, plainly I do not know of the alleged ” deeds ” that you refer to ,but I do know that Martin was a genuine ,honest human being , caught up in a war not of his making …. If he is being eulogized by people at this present moment it’s because he made a genuine effort to reach out and usher in a better future for us all….an effort spurned and wasted by the pessimistic naysayers of Unionism .Remember , that at any moment in the past , even before Martin Mc Guinness was born ,the smallest dose of liberalism…..a meagerly few civil rights from the Unionist Fiefdom at Stormont would have prevented that war and at any time from the onset of that war ….the powers that be ,Her Britannic Majesty’s Government , at a single stroke of a pen ,could have ended that nightmare for us all ! Not one of us ,you and I included ,are innocent bystanders in this….the poem by Martin Niemöller ” First they Came “….sublimely sums it up…..we are all collectively responsible.

  8. Argenta April 24, 2017 at 11:06 pm #

    While Jude admonishes us all to avoid personal abuse in our posts,it appears that Donal is given free rein to indulge in such.The latest target is Eamon Mc Cann who I understand was a contemporary of Jude’s at St Columbs in Derry .While Eamons politics may not be to everyone’s taste,he surely deserves better than this mean spirited attack on him .

    • Emmet April 25, 2017 at 6:39 am #

      The attacks on Eamon are mild compared the attacks he writes for what he once described as ‘the machinery of capitalism’. Another flip-flop on McCann’s part. I don’t think there is anything personal in the article either.

    • giordanobruno April 25, 2017 at 9:16 am #

      Forget it man- its Collinstown!

  9. paddykool April 25, 2017 at 8:12 am #

    I have to say that Martin Mcguinness’s funeral was something of a chimera…an illusion even.Sure , there were many there to celebrate the complicated life of an ordinary man who had lived in extraordinary times A man who made a difference in the world no matter how you might view it; a man who will be written about for years to come and a man who was ultimately, also an enigma. Anyone writing the definitive book about him will not be writing anything like the complete story of his life.We’ll undoubtadly be served -up the same sound-bites o wisdom that have padded out a hundred dreary documentaries and none of the real details we really want to know of….all that background stuff.
    The funeral collected many who could see the complete man ,but some also attended simply because they had to attend by dint of perceived public pressure. Far from being a happy-clappy colection of visionaries for a New Ireland and how it might look, for some that vision was not a factor at all.Some were there because they had to be there; they would rather have been anywhere else but politics demanded that they show their faces. i’m thinking specifically of Arlene Foster and the DUP here .Had I been in her shoes , i might also have wanted to be cutting the lawn at home rather than walking into the funeral of an honoured republican .She went because she had to go.
    I could do without the sniping at Eamon McCann.I see very little comparison to be made. Martin McGuinness’s circumstances and his life were not the same at all. He was obviously a very pragmatic negotiator…everyone says so but I would be interested in seeing or reading the nuts and bolts of some of these negotiations. They were very different kinds of people and each had their part to play.From what I can see and remember of those early days, many new, young IRA men were reacting to very specific, personal circumstances in their own homes and on their own streets which radicalised them.You’d need to walk a mile in those shoes before making any judgements. Where that all led in the years to come is all in the public record; much of it is even on film and has been written -up in numerous books. at bottom there were two sides to the entire conflict and there are reasons for all of the conflict. There was nothing pleasant about the conflict and there was nuch horror on all sides. in some respects there was also a romantic ,sacrificial innocence in the personalities of many of the players, who believed that their sacrifice would be remembered and their reward was in some heavenly afterworld.Many combatants in the conflict were not sophisticated political analysts. They were working on a different level entirely
    There’s a problem in that one of those sides in the conflict was paid for by the same State that oppressed them ,which was working in tandem with armed -groups to prop up the very rotteness that had created them.