Speed Reads


Martin McGuinness, IRA militant turned Northern Ireland political leader, is dead at 66

Martin McGuinness went from being a leader of the Irish Republican Army paramilitary group in the 1970s to a key negotiator in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland, and from 2007 until January he was deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, serving alongside three Democratic Unionist Party leaders. McGuinness died early Tuesday at a hospital in Derry, his hometown, at age 66. He had been diagnosed with a rare heart disease in December.

McGuinness was the IRA's second-in-command in Derry in 1972 during the Bloody Sunday killing of 14 civil rights protesters by British soldiers. He was convicted and jailed a year later after being caught near an explosives-laden vehicle, and jailed again for being a member of the IRA. McGuinness said he left the IRA in 1974 to enter politics, and was first elected to the Northern Ireland parliament as a member of Sinn Féin in 1982. He resigned as deputy first minister in January over a DUP energy scandal, prompting snap elections.

McGuinness never denied his IRA past, but he spent the past decades working for peace. "My war is over," he said in recent years. "My job as a political leader is to prevent that war and I feel very passionate about it." He is survived by his wife, Bernie, and their four children. You can learn more about McGuinness in the CNN obituary below. Peter Weber