President & Council on Social Responsibility release statement on retirement of Martin McGuinness

The President of the Methodist Church, the Rev. Bill Mullally and the Church's Council on Social Responsibility, have issued the following Statement, marking the retirement of Martin McGuinness:
With the retirement of Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland politics will be the poorer. There was an honesty about him in that he never tried to avoid his past as a leading commander of the IRA in Derry. Dealing with political leaders in Britain and Ireland was nothing new to him as he was a negotiator for the IRA with the British and Irish Governments from the 1970's onwards.
While acknowledging his past and the actions of others which led him into the IRA and the great loss of life his organisation caused very often to innocent civilians, it would be churlish not to commend and acknowledge his influence in the pursuit of peace. On a personal level, he was acutely aware of the pain and grief of the victims caused by the conflict. Encouraged by others, he put away the armalite and replaced it with the ballot box and we could say the rest is history.
As a Church, we with others, applaud his unstinting work for peace sometimes perhaps at great personal cost. His was the hand that was held out in friendship even to those who continued to see him as "the enemy". His courage and bridge-building was seen in his visits to the Somme and Flanders fields; in his historic handshakes with Queen Elizabeth II and this was matched by Her Majesty's historic visit to the Irish Republic whereby her words and actions she held out a hand of friendship to a people who had for centuries seen Britain as the enemy.
Friendship does not mean the betrayal of aspirations.  It does mean a willingness to work together for the good of all the people and leave behind the battles of the past as there are enough battles to be fought in the present.
Issued by:   
Rev. Roy Cooper (07710945104)
Rev. Bill Mullally - President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
Rev. David Clements - Co-Chair of the Methodist Council on Social Responsibility