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The Latest: Irish PM Says McGuinness' Death a Loss

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Tuesday, 21 Mar 2017 05:58 AM

DUBLIN (AP) — The Latest on the death of former IRA commander Martin McGuinness (all times local):

9:30 a.m.

Ireland's prime minister, Enda Kenny, says he "was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Martin McGuinness today. His passing represents a significant loss, not only to politics in Northern Ireland but to the wider political landscape on this island and beyond."

Kenny adds: "His commitment to securing enduring peace and prosperity for all of the people of Northern Ireland was unwavering throughout this time. He strove to make Northern Ireland a better place for everyone, regardless of background or tradition."

9:15 a.m.

Norman Tebbit, whose wife was paralyzed by the IRA bombing of a hotel in Brighton in 1984, says he hopes McGuinness is — in his words — "parked in a particularly hot and unpleasant corner of hell for the rest of eternity."

Tebbit, who served in Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, described McGuinness as "not only a multi-murderer — he was a coward."

Tebbit said: "He knew that the IRA were defeated because British intelligence had penetrated right the way up to the Army Council and that the end was coming.

"He then sought to save his own skin and he knew that it was likely he would be charged before long with several murders which he had personally committed and he decided that the only thing to do was to opt for peace."

8:55 a.m.

Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair says the peace process in Northern Ireland wouldn't have been possible without the courage displayed by Martin McGuinness.

In a statement issued after the death of the 66-year-old former Irish Republican Army commander, Blair says McGuinness "set aside that armed struggle in favor of making peace."

Blair was prime minister when the landmark Good Friday Agreement between Northern Ireland's Protestant and Catholic political leaders was signed in 1998. Blair says it could not have been done without "Martin's leadership."

Blair adds: "I will remember him therefore with immense gratitude for the part he played in the peace process and with genuine affection for the man I came to know and admire for his contribution to peace."

8:45 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has praised Martin McGuinness for his contribution to peacemaking in Northern Ireland, describing him as a pioneer in implementing cross-community power sharing.

In a measured statement Tuesday, May says that while she could "never condone the path" he took in early life, he nonetheless played an essential part in "the extraordinary journey of Northern Ireland from conflict to peace."

May says she didn't always see "eye to eye" with McGuinness, he nonetheless was "one of the pioneers of implementing cross-community power sharing in Northern Ireland."

She says McGuinness "understood both its fragility and its precious significance and played a vital part in helping to find a way through many difficult moments."

8:15 a.m.

Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern says McGuinness "made a journey, if not without historical precedent, then certainly without equal in modern Ireland. It began for a very young man in pursuit of violent struggle. It ended only weeks before his death, after years in office, spent strengthening the peace he worked for and to which his leadership was essential."

Ahern added: "At critical moments during the shared efforts to transform The Troubles into a lasting, stable peace, Martin was a defining factor in effecting those changes."

8:00 a.m.

Peter Hain, a former British Cabinet member responsible for Northern Ireland, said McGuinness was "absolutely crucial" to the peace process.

Hain says: "Sometimes in the history of conflicts — and, goodness me, the island of Ireland has been involved in centuries of conflict with Britain — you need leaders who can rise above their past and, at that point, Martin McGuinness certainly stood the test and proved to be an indispensable figure."

Hain said he was surprised to learn that McGuinness was a fan of the England cricket team. Hain said: "I realized watching the Ashes series on the television in the corner of my office ...that he actually was following the England cricket team, he knew all the players."

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The Latest on the death of former IRA commander Martin McGuinness (all times local):9:30 a.m.Ireland's prime minister, Enda Kenny, says he "was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Martin McGuinness today. His passing represents a significant loss, not only to politics...
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