Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: McGuinness, Martin
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Northern Ireland centre-left nationalist politician and chief negotiator for Sinn Féin, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), deputy first minister of Northern Ireland 2007–17. He was a UK member of Parliament for Mid Ulster 1997–2013, and a member of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly (MLA) following the implementation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement until 2017. He was minister of education in Northern Ireland from 1999 until the suspension of the devolved power-sharing administration in October 2002. He became deputy first minister to Ian Paisley, the first minister from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), after Sinn Féin finished in second place after the May 2007 elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, and was reappointed as deputy to Peter Robinson in 2008. In January 2017 McGuinness resigned as deputy first minister in protest against the DUP's handling of a green energy scheme (the ‘cash for ashes’ scandal), and stepped down as Sinn Féin leader as a MLA because of ill health.

Following the IRA's announcement in 1994 of a cessation of its military operations, he represented Sinn Féin exploratory contacts with the UK government. Later, he was chief negotiator in the formal peace talks leading up to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. In the 1997 UK general election he was elected as Sinn Féin member for the Mid Ulster constituency and was re-elected in 2001, 2005, and 2010, although he did not take his seat at the Westminster House of Commons. In 2011 he contested Ireland's presidential election, finishing third with 14% of the vote.

Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, he became involved in the Catholic civil rights movement in the late 1960s and joined Sinn Féin 1970. Although convicted and imprisoned in the early 1970s for terrorism-related offences, he denied having been a member of the IRA until 2001, when he admitted his early attachment to the group. In 1982 he was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly (which was dissolved in 1986), but was excluded from entering the rest of the UK under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Full text Article McGuinness, Martin (b.1950)
Brewer's Dictionary of Irish Phrase and Fable

Republican activist. He was born on 23 May 1950 in the Nationalist area of Derry, loosely called the BOGSIDE , and worked as a butcher until...

Full text Article 10 September 2015
The Hutchinson Chronology of World History

Subject: political events Area: Northern Ireland Concerns over the alleged continuing existence and operation of the militant Irish Republican Army

Full text Article 8 May 2007
The Hutchinson Chronology of World History

Subject: political events Area: Northern Ireland In Northern Ireland, a new devolved government takes office led by first minister Ian Paisley of t

See more from Credo