Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Secretary and International Transport Workers¹ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin has paid tribute to former IRA leader turned Sinn Féin politician, Martin McGuinness.
McGuinness died on Tuesday aged 66, after a short illness.
Thousands of people packed the streets of his native Bogside, a republican area of Derry, as his funeral took place, and many of them followed the coffin of Mr McGuinness onward to the city cemetery.
"Please pass on my deepest sympathies and condolences to Martins family friends and comrades on behalf of the Maritime Union of Australia and the International Transport Workers Federation,² Crumlin wrote in a letter of condolence.
"Martin was and will remain a great inspiration for all people who aspire for justice, freedom and independence as a basis for human dignity and rights. His long commitment to those rights in Ireland was equally important to all who struggle for those same recognitions in every place in this world.
"His life's work will continue to resonate within those ongoing struggles for genuine freedom as a constant reminder that courage, clear moral and ethical values well founded in the wisdom that genuine democracy is predicated upon equality regardless of physical, religious, material or ethnic designation. His great ongoing liberating legacy will be that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary change if they are dedicated to this wisdom through tenacity, constancy and strength in the face of great opposition.
"Martin knew the importance of the collective and of community. A true son of Free Derry found work far beyond the local injustice prejudice and division of his childhood landscape. We are much stronger and more secure everywhere because of his that journey and his unerring faith that it would inevitably be rewarded with the success of peace and freedom at many points.
"Working women and men internationally faced with similar experience of the polarization,dislocation ,violence and physical and economic oppression from abuses by elite political ,corporate and industrial self interest stand and walk with Martins family friends and comrades today in testament and knowledge that Martin's journey was with them as well.
"Vale comrade McGuinness . Man of peace and freedom. Fighter for justice and rights. Family man . Irishman and internationalist. Now at rest after a mighty effort."
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams gave the following graveside oration:
Ar dtus ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhron a dheanamh le Bernie, bean cheile
Martin, Fiachra, Grainne, Fionnuala agus Emmett agus garphaisti s'acu.
Ta Sinn Fein an-bhroduil as Martin McGuinness.
Cuis mhor broin againn uilig gur chaill muid ar gcara agus ar gcomradai
Martin cupla la o shin.
Bhi Martin ina phoblachtoir paiseanta a d'oibrigh gan sos ar son na
siochana, agus ar son athmhuintearais agus ar son athaontu na tire.
Ach thar rud ar bith eile, bhi gra agus brod mor aige ar a chlann agus
ar mhuintir Dhoire agus muintir na hEireann.
This week, Ireland lost a hero.
Derry lost a son.
Sinn Fein lost a leader and I lost a dear friend and a comrade.
But Martin's family has suffered the biggest loss of all.
They have lost a loving, caring, dedicated husband, father and
grandfather. A brother and an uncle.
On behalf of Sinn Fein, on my own behalf and Colette and our family, and
for you all, I extend our solidarity to all the McGuinness family.
All of us thank the doctors and nurses who looked after Martin so well
during his illness.
We think and pray also for the family of Ryan McBride.
We send our sympathy to them and to all in the world of Irish soccer.
One of the very best things Martin ever did was to marry Bernie Canning.
One of his very best achievements was the family, which he and Bernie
reared in the Bogside in Derry.
Above all else, Martin loved his family.
Our heart goes out to his wife Bernie, their sons Fiachra and Emmett,
their daughters Fionnuala and Grainne, Bernie and Martin's
grandchildren, Tiarnan, Oisin, Rossa, Ciana, Cara, Dualta and Sadhbh;
his sister Geraldine, brothers Paul, William, Declan, Tom and John and
the extended McGuinness family.
Those of us who knew Martin are proud of his achievements. Of his
humanity and compassion.
Martin was a formidable person of the rarest kind - one who did
extraordinary things in extraordinary times.
He would not be surprised at the commentary from some quarters about him
and his life.
He would be the first to say that these people are entitled to their
In particular, those who suffered at the hands of the IRA.
But let me take issue with those in the editorial rooms or in their
political ivory towers who denounce Martin McGuinness as a terrorist.
Mar a duirt An Piarsach at the grave of another Fenian - the fools, the
fools, the fools.
Martin cannot answer them back.
So let me answer for him.
Martin McGuinness was not a terrorist.
Martin McGuinness was a Freedom Fighter.
He was also a political prisoner, a negotiator, a peacemaker, a healer.
But while he had a passion for politics Martin was not one dimensional.
He had many interests. Especially in nature. In spirituality. And he was
famously and hugely interested in people.
He also enjoyed story telling.
And he could tell a yarn better than most, including me.
In the early weeks of his illness after Christmas I tried to encourage
him to write a book and he was up for that.
A book about childhood summers in Donegal, in the Illies, outside
About his mother. His memories of his father. His brothers and sister.
Schools days and much more.
Meeting Bernie. Their courtship. The births of their children. Their
Unfortunately, he will never write that book.
He was a good writer, decent poet with a special place in his heart for
Seamus Heaney and Patrick Kavanagh.
He loved growing herbs. He thought he was the world's best chess player.
He loved cooking. Fly fishing. Walking, especially around Grianan Fort -
Bhain se sult ag gach sort spoirt, ach an raibh peileadoir ni na mheasa
na e riamh?
He enjoyed watching sports of all kinds.
Football, hurling, cricket, golf, rugby.
Soccer - he was the world's worst player.
He once broke his leg playing soccer. He had a plaster from his ankle to
He had to go up and down the stairs on his backside.
His mother Peggy - God rest her - told me that he tripped over the ball.
He was great at telling jokes.
He liked all of these past times.
But he especially loved having the space to have time with Bernie and
That's what grounded Martin McGuinness.
Bhi Martin ina chara mor acu siud uilig a bhi ag troid ar son na saoirse
ar fud an domhain.
He was a friend to those engaged in the struggles for justice across the
And he travelled widely promoting the imperative of peace making, in the
Basque country and Colombia, the Middle East and Iraq.
He travelled to South Africa to meet Nelson Mandela and others in the
ANC leadership, as well as in the National Party, to learn from their
Martin was also a man who was, in many ways very ordinary.
Particularly in his habits and personal lifestyle.
Like many other Derry 'wans', Martin grew up in a city in which
Catholics were victim of widespread political and economic
He was born into an Orange State which did not want him or his kind.
Poverty was endemic.
I remember him telling me that he was surprised when his father, a quiet
modest church going man, marched in the civil rights campaign here in
The Orange State's violent suppression of that civil rights campaign;
the Battle of the Bogside, and the emerging conflict propelled Martin
into a life less ordinary.
Bhuail muid don cheaduair blianta fada o shin i nDoire Saor. Is cairde
agus comradaithe sinn o shin.
We first met, 45 years ago, behind the barricades of Free Derry.
We have been friends and comrades ever since.
From time spent on the run, to imprisonment in the Curragh and
Portlaoise and Belfast Prison, through his time as Northern Education
Minister and later deputy First Minister, along with Ian Paisley, then
Peter Robinson and then Arlene Foster, Martin made an unparalleled
Reading and watching some of the media reports of his life and death in
recent days one could be forgiven for believing that Martin, at some
undefined point in his life, had a road to Damascus conversion;
abandoned his republican principles, his former comrades in the IRA, and
joined the political establishment.
To suggest this is to miss the truth of his leadership and the essence
of his humanity.
There was not a bad Martin McGuinness or a good Martin McGuinness.
There was simply a man, like every other decent man or woman, doing his
Martin believed in freedom and equality.
He resisted by armed actions those who withheld these rights, and then
he helped shape conditions in which it was possible to advocate for
these entitlements by unarmed strategies.
Throughout it all Martin remained committed to the same ideals that led
to his becoming a republican activist in the first instance - the
pursuit of Irish unification, freedom, equality and respect for all.
Martin believed that the British government's involvement in Ireland,
and the partition of our island, are at the root of our divisions.
He was absolutely one hundred per cent right about that.
The British government has no right whatsoever to have any involvement
Along with others of like mind he understood the importance of building
a popular democratic radical republican party across this island.
He especially realised that negotiations and politics were another arena
In this way he helped chart a new course, a different strategy.
This involved taking difficult initiatives to make political advances.
Our political objectives, and our republican principles and ideals did
On the contrary these guided us through every twist and turn of the
Thanks to Martin we now live in a very different Ireland, which has been
We live in a society in transition.
The future now can be decided by us.
It should never be decided for us.
Without Martin there could not have been the type of peace process we've
Much of the change we now take for granted, could not have been
In my view the key is in never giving up.
That was Martin's mantra also.
He was also tough, assertive and unmovable when that was needed.
Dogmatic at times.
Wimps don't make good negotiators - neither do so-called hard men.
Martin learned the need for flexibility.
His contribution to the evolution of republican thinking was enormous,
as was his popularising of republican ideals.
Over many years of working together, Martin and I both realised that
advances in struggle require creativity and imagination and a
willingness to take initiatives.
Martin embraced that challenge and he didn't just talk about change, he
He once said: "When change begins, and we have the confidence to embrace
it as an opportunity and a friend, and show honest and positive
leadership, then so much is possible."
Bhi se ina abhar mor broid agam chun Martin a ainmniu mar an chead Aire
Oideachais i ndiaidh Chomhaontu Aoine an Cheasta.
It was a source of great pride for me following the Good Friday
Agreement to nominate Martin as the north's Minister for Education.
It was a position he embraced; putting equality and fairness into
practice in the Department of Education, seeking to end the Eleven Plus
and improve outcomes for children.
In 2007, he became deputy First Minister and an equal partner to Ian
Paisley in government.
They forged a friendship that illustrated to all the progress we have
made on the island of Ireland.
His reconciliation and outreach work, and his work on behalf of victims
and for peace, in Ireland and internationally, have been justifiably
As part of that work, Martin met Queen Elizabeth of England several
He did so while very conscious of the criticism this might provoke. He
would be the first to acknowledge that some republicans and nationalists
were discommoded at times by his efforts to reach out the hand of
That is the real test of leadership - to reach out beyond your own base.
It is a test that Martin passed every time.
Some unionist leaders were discommoded also at the sight of their Queen
greeting Martin or on another occasion using a cupla focal or bowing in
salute to the men and women of 1916.
These are symbolic gestures but they are important nonetheless.
As Martin pointed out in his letter of resignation on January 9th; "The
equality, mutual respect and all-Ireland approaches enshrined in the
Good Friday Agreement have never been fully embraced by the DUP. Apart
from the negative attitude to nationalism and to the Irish identity and
culture, there has been a shameful disrespect towards many other
sections of our community."
I quote this more in sadness than anger.
And I try to understand why this is so.
That's what Martin did.
So, here at the graveside of this good man let me appeal to our unionist
Let us learn to like each other, to be friends, to celebrate and enjoy
our differences and to do so on the basis of common sense, respect and
tolerance for each other and everyone else - as equals.
Let me appeal also to nationalists and republicans - do nothing to
disrespect our unionist neighbours or anyone else.
Stand against bigotry. Against sectarianism,
But respect our unionist neighbours.
Reach out to them.
Lead, as Martin led, by example.
By little acts of kindness and generosity.
Is feidir linne bheith iontach broduil as Martin.
Is duine e de na fir agus de na mna iontacha sin a sheas an fod ar son
saoirse na hEireann.
We can be very proud of Martin.
He is another of those great and remarkable men and women who have stood
up for Irish freedom and for what they believed to be right.
Martin believed that a better Ireland, a genuinely new Ireland is
He rejected any suggestion that gender or race or class or skin colour
or disability or sexual orientation or religion should exclude citizens
from their full rights and entitlements.
That is a legacy we must build upon.
Of course, while much progress has been made - not least in the numerous
lives saved in the last 20 years - nevertheless Irish republicans know
that a long, long road, with many twists and turns, still lies ahead.
It's all about rights.
Social and economic rights.
Rights for women.
The right to freedom.
These rights can't be left to any political party.
If you want an Acht na Gaeilge campaign for it.
Na habair e. Dean e.
If you want a Bill of Rights campaign for that.
If you want marriage equality - mobilise for that.
If you want freedom, go out and take it.
Organise. Mobilise. Unite for your rights.
That is the challenge facing us.
To build a mass movement for positive change across all 32 counties of
And for all our people.
Facing that challenge we are the stronger because of Martin.
So, don't mourn. Celebrate and organise. That's what Martin would want.
He exemplified all that is decent and fair about our republican ideology
and our core values of freedom, equality and solidarity.
It is now over to us to take the struggle from where he has left it.
Like Bobby Sands he believed that our revenge should be the laughter of
By his example he showed us that it is possible to build peace out of
conflict; to build a better and more equal future based on fairness, and
to build unity out of division.
Martin will continue to inspire and encourage us in the time ahead.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis. Ni bheidh a leitheid aris ann.
I never thought I would be giving this oration today.
Martin was looking forward so much to stepping back in May from public
This wasn't to be but his was a life well lived.
That is little consolation to Bernie and her clann today but we pray
that she and they in the time ahead will take comfort from the happy
times they enjoyed with Martin.
He said Bernie was his rock many times during his illness, "My Rock of
Cashel", he told me.
"I am lucky to have her."
Bernie was also lucky to have him.
So were the rest of us.
We also loved him.
Thank you Bernie for sharing Martin with us.
He will be missed by many. But you will miss him more than anyone else.
Slan a chara, slan go deo.
We thank Martin McGuinness.
We salute Martin McGuinness.
We applaud Martin McGuinness.
Up the Republic.