Alistair Campbell: 'Martin McGuinness was fundamental to the Northern Ireland peace process'

Alistair Campbell: 'Martin McGuinness was fundamental to the Northern Ireland peace process'

The former Downing Street Press Secretary recounted his recollections of the former IRA commander to Paul Ross

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Alistair Campbell has paid tribute to Martin McGuinness, calling him "fundamental" to the Good Friday Agreement. 

The former deputy leader of Northern Ireland, who served as a commander in the IRA, passed away in a Londonderry hospital on Monday night, months after being diagnosed with a heart condition.

McGuinness' death has provoked criticism in certain quarters, notably from Norman Tebbit, the former Tory minister who was a victim of the IRA Brighton bombing in 1984. Tebbit likened McGuinness to the leaders of Nazi Germany in an interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer.

But Campbell, the former Downing Street Press Secretary under Tony Blair who ushered in the agreement in 1997, told Paul Ross McGuinness was "fundamental" to the negotiations. 

He said: "I found him very straight, tough-minded right from the off, but also had a good sense of humour and as time went on, came to see other peoples’ points of view.

"McGuinness was fundamental [in the negotiations for the Good Friday agreement] because the main step to be made was the IRA having to take a different course, give up the violent struggle, and he led this. 

“He made a judgment [that] the path they were taking wasn’t delivering what they wanted.

"I know speaking warmly about someone who did have the past Martin had offends some people, but I liked the guy and I’m sad he’s died."

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