I have heard of and seen many things in Northern Ireland in my long and happy lifetime, but I never thought I would see the day, when the headline would be Martin McGuinness running for the Irish Presidency. It came as a surprise to many, not the fact that Sinn Fein would put forward a candidate, but few expected it would be the Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly. I was going to say stranger things have happened, but they really haven't, well not in the history of Northern Ireland.
McGuinness was well known in his early days for being a member of the IRA, something he has acknowledged and over time has brought Sinn Fein to the negotiating table and eventually succeeded in agreeing a Peace Process along with Gerry Adams, the President of Sinn Fein. McGuinness then went on to become Deputy First Minister, a joint first Ministerial role which he shared with the Reverend Ian Paisley the leader at that time of the Democratic Unionist Party. For years these two parties had been at logger heads and for many years the DUP refused to even speak with or sit in the same room as Sinn Fein. That combination in itself came as a shock to many, and such was their relationship they went on to become known as "The Chuckle Brothers."
When Paisley retired McGuinness then shared this post with Peter Robinson. That relationship has also appeared to flourish but in a more reserved professional way. Nevertheless it is testament to the attributes of Martin McGuinness that he has somehow managed to achieve any of this. His next venture will be an interesting one. He certainly has a big profile but Sinn Fein are not a popular political party in the Republic of Ireland so he will have a lot of work to do. Mary McAleese has served two terms and she will be a hard act to follow. It was this lady that brought the Queen of England to Ireland for the first time in 100 years. An event interestingly that Sinn Fein did not support or turn up to attend.
Interesting times ahead it would seem.