Adams: "Martin McGuinness was not a terrorist"

The Sinn Féin President delivered the oration at the former First Minister's funeral

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said "Ireland has lost a hero" at the funeral of former First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Delivering the oration at the former IRA commander's graveside said his loss will be felt throughout the country.

"This week, Ireland lost a hero, Derry lost a son, Sinn Féin lost a leader and I lost a dear friend and a comrade," he said. "But Martin's family have suffered the biggest lost of all.

"All of us who knew Martin are proud of his achievements, of his buamnity, of his compassion."

Adams went on to to describe McGuinness as a "formidable person".

Political commentary

Speaking on his involvement with the IRA, Adams said he was "not surprised" by the commentary from "some quarters".

"Let me be the first to say that these people are entitled to their opinions, particularly to those who suffered at the hands of the IRA.

"Let me take issue with those in the editorial rooms or the political ivory towers who denounce Martin as a terrorist [...] Martin cannot answer them back, so let me answer for him - Martin McGuinness was not a terrorist.

"Like Bobby Sands he believed that our revenge should be the laughter of our children.

"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."

He described McGuinness as a "freedom fighter, a political prisoner, a peacemaker and a healer."

Adams said it was "a source of great pride" to nominate McGuinness as the north’s Minister for Education following the Good Friday Agreement.

"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."

Adams outlined McGuinness other interests, including nature, story-telling and fly-fishing, and concluded by saying McGuinness "will continue to inspire and encourage us in the time ahead".