Academic discusses Martin McGuinness in a BBC Radio Leicester interview

Dr Richard Butler, from the University of Leicester’s School of History, Politics and International Relations, has discussed the life of Martin McGuinness, who passed away today at the age of 66, in an interview with BBC Radio Leicester.

In the interview Dr Butler, who researches Irish urban history, said: “McGuinness is one of the really difficult figures of modern Irish history.

“I am speaking as someone who grew up in Cork, in the Republic of Ireland, and what happened in Derry and Belfast was about as far away from Cork as Leicester so I’ve always been in two minds about McGuinness.

“I think we have to be careful how we remember him as he did have these two lives. In his early career he was open about being a part of the IRA and in later years, amazingly, entering government.

“People should remember that there are different opinions in Ireland itself about McGuinness.

“There are lots of people in Ireland who also find him to be a very difficult figure. Proof of that is when he ran to be President of the Republic of Ireland six years ago, he came third. There is not a single Irish opinion in favour of McGuinness.

“To try to understand him in a broader perspective you have to think about what life was like in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s.

“What drove young men like McGuiness into the IRA? How would something like Bloody Sunday have been received in Derry in 1972? It is a very difficult history.

“There is hurt on both sides. The question is how to move forwards.”

Listen to the interview with Dr Richard Butler here (3:20.30-3:27.30)