September 1, 1997

Profile of Martin McGuinness

Sinn Fein's Chief Negotiator with the British Government

Martin McGuinness was born in 1950 into a close knit nationalist family and is the second oldest of seven children (six boys and one girl). Martin was educated by the Christian Brothers and left school at the age of fifteen.

He became involved in the Civil Rights Movement in Derry after October 5th, 1968 and joined Sinn Fein in 1970. Since Martin was elected to the Ard Comhairle (National Executive) of Sinn Fein, he has played a major role in promoting and supporting the strategy of the current peace process. He was a leading representative in the 1972 talks with the then British Secretary of State, William Whitelaw, in London.

In 1982 Martin McGuinness was elected to the short-lived Stormont assembly. Later that year he was excluded from entering Britain under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Martin McGuinness is Sinn Feinis Chief Negotiator. He led our party's delegation which following the IRA cessation of 31st August 1994 met with the British Minister, Michael Ancram, on several occasions at Stormont. Prior to that he represented Sinn Fein in protracted secret contact and negotiations with representatives of the British government from 1990 until 1993. All of these meetings are documented in the Sinn Fein booklet `Setting the Record Straight.'

He also met in private meetings with Patrick Mayhew as part of Sinn Fein's attempts to persuade the British government to move beyond the impasse which had been created by its refusal to move towards all-party negotiations.

Martin, along with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, had private discussions with President Bill Clinton during the American President's visit to Belfast in 1995. He has also represented the Party in high level discussions with political leaders in Europe as well as America. Martin was also a member of Sinn Feinis delegation to the Dublin Forum for Peace and Reconciliation.

Martin McGuinness was elected as Sinn Fein MP for Mid-Ulster in the recent Westminster elections.

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