Martin McGuinness dies: Opinion split on Londonderry’s Waterside

Alan Montgomery expressed a very negative view of Martin McGuinness, owing to his past as an IRA commander
Alan Montgomery expressed a very negative view of Martin McGuinness, owing to his past as an IRA commander

People in the largely mixed Waterside area of Londonderry expressed a diverse range of views on the life of Martin McGuinness.

The News Letter visited the Lisnagelvin area in Mr McGuinness’s home city to try and gauge the general feeling towards him following his passing overnight on Monday.

Brid Kelly said it was a sad day for the city

Brid Kelly said it was a sad day for the city

Unlike the larger cityside area of Londonderry, the community divide on the east bank of the city is evenly divided between people from a Catholic background and those from a Protestant background.

One man described Mr McGuinness’s death as “good riddance to bad rubbish” because of the Sinn Féin figure’s actions during his time in the IRA, while others described his death as “a sad day for the city”.

One man from a Protestant background, Alan Montgomery, said: “Martin McGuinness? Good riddance to bad rubbish. He was a terrorist at the end of the day.

“That might sound harsh but I am thinking of the families who lost loved ones because of the IRA.

Helen Coyle was very sad to hear about his passing

Helen Coyle was very sad to hear about his passing

“I am thinking of the people whose family members are buried and they don’t know where they are – that is who I am thinking about.”

Elaine Donaghey, another Protestant from the Waterside, struck a different note. She said: “He has done some great work and I think everybody deserves a second chance in life. Everybody deserves a chance to redeem themselves. I am sad to see him die so young.”

Wendy Park, also from the Waterside, expressed admiration for both Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness.

She said: “I am shocked at the news. I have never been very political but I admired the way him and Ian Paisley were able to set aside their differences and work together.”

Helen Coyle, from Campsie, said: “I am very sad to hear about his passing and I would like to pass on my condolences to his family.”

Brid Kelly also expressed sadness after Mr McGuinness’ death, saying: “It is a sad day for the city coming so soon after the death of Ryan McBride. My thoughts are with his family.”

John Craig, a retired man from the Waterside, disagreed with much of the praise bestowed on Mr McGuinness.

“I am sure his family are very sad but Martin McGuinness didn’t start off too well. I don’t want to say bad things about him after he’s died but he is getting an awful lot of praise he doesn’t deserve.

“He is responsible for some very bad things that no one would like to have on their conscience. He was a commander in the IRA. People are talking about how great he is for stopping terrorism but why should he be praised for that? He shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place.

“Where is all the praise for everyone else who has never fired a gun or ordered someone to be killed? I’ve never killed anyone. You’ve never killed anyone. Why isn’t everybody praising us?”

Many of those who held a negative opinion on Mr McGuinness were cautious in the extreme about making their views public.

One such man, who stopped to speak to the News Letter whilst walking his dog, reflected on his own reluctance to make his views public, saying: “In this part of the world you have to keep your head down.”

Despite his reluctance he did, however, hold an opinion on Mr McGuinness even if he did not want his name to be printed alongside his views.

“I am old enough to remember his earlier career and that has a tendency to colour my views of his later career,” he said.