FILE PHOTO - Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness smiles during a news conference announcing Michelle O'Neill as his replacement for the upcoming elections, in Belfast, Northern Ireland January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo
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Martin McGuinness, the Irish Republican Army commander who led his underground, paramilitary movement toward reconciliation with Britain, and was Northern Ireland's deputy first minister for a decade in a power-sharing government, died Tuesday, his Sinn Fein party announced.McGuinness' transformation as peacemaker was all the more remarkable because, as a senior IRA commander during the years of gravest Catholic-Protestant violence, he insisted that Northern Ireland must be forced out of the United Kingdom against the wishes of Protestants.Even after the Sinn Fein party -- the IRA's legal, public face -- started to run for elections in the 1980s, McGuinness insisted as Sinn Fein deputy leader that "armed struggle" remained essential.Soldiers found it impossible to pass IRA road barricades erected in McGuinness' nearby Bogside power base.McGuinness appeared unmasked at early Provisional IRA press conferences. In 1972, Northern Ireland's bloodiest year, McGuinness joined Adams in a six-man IRA delegation flown by the British government to London for secret face-to-face negotiations during a brief truce. Historians and security analysts agree that McGuinness was promoted to the IRA's ruling army council following his November 1974 parole from prison and would have overseen many of the group's most spectacular and divisive attacks.
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