Jude Collins

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The lives of Gusty Spence and Martin McGuinness

Gusty Spence  and Martin McGuinness share a lot in common, don't they? Well,  let's see how that stands up.
1. Both men in their early years had a military background. Gusty Spence was a soldier in the British Army, serving (funny how we use that word for what soldiers do) a long way from home, in Cyprus in the early 1960s. Then he came back home and was convicted of shooting dead an innocent young Catholic man called Peter Ward.  Spence and his family maintain he (Spence)  was innocent of  the crime. If he was, he wouldn't be  the first to serve years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, but so far as we know it was a sectarian murder.  Martin McGuinness was an IRA volunteer  who  led, we're told, a sustained military campaign against the British army in the north of Ireland. He was never convicted of shooting anyone dead.
2.  Spence has expressed deep contrition for any hurt inflicted on anyone. McGuinness has expressed regret that any innocent people died during the conflict.
3. Spence for many years has urged loyalism (why do they call it loyalism and not unionism?) to build a political force to replace paramilitarism. In this he has completely failed.  McGuinness for many years has urged republicanism to build a political force to replace paramilitarism. In this he has been spectacularly successful.
4. Spence has forged no notable relationships with republican counterparts. McGuinness has forged  highly visible relationships with unionist counterparts, notably Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson.

In short, if you  gallop on a speedy horse past  the careers of both men - once involved in paramilitarism, later  involved  in politics - they look alike. Get off the horse and take a closer look: the differences are massive. Gusty Spence, convicted of a sectarian killing, followed that deed with a political career that left no legacy. Martin McGuinness, convicted of possession of ammunition and explosives, followed his paramilitary career with a political career that made him Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. And maybe - just maybe - more.


  1. Leader of murder gang 1 cant get elected

    Leader of murder gang 2 gets elected

    Says all we need to know about electorates

  2. Indeed it does say all we need to know about the electorates. It says one electorate can formulate and support a successful political entity giving it a voice, whilst the other cannot.