Martin McGuinness: Thousands of mourners line streets of Bogside to bid farewell to former IRA commander

Chloe Chaplain

Thousands of mourners lined the streets of Londonderry’s Bogside to pay tribute to the veteran Sinn Fein figure Martin McGuinness.

The body of the former Stormont deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander was brought through the streets around his home for the final time.

Former US president Bill Clinton and ex-Democratic Unionist Stormont first ministers Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster were among those attending Thursday's funeral.

Mr McGuinness died on Tuesday from a rare heart condition aged 66.

Funeral: The coffin of Martin McGuinness is carried from St Columba's Church in Londonderry (AP)

Irish President Michael D Higgins and his predecessor, Mary McAleese, also attended the funeral, as did Taoiseach Enda Kenny and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Mr McGuinness's beloved Bogside neighbourhood came to a standstill as his remains - the coffin draped in the Irish Tricolour - were walked to St Columba's Church, led by a lone piper.

Addressing mourners at the ceremony, Bill Clinton made a plea for people to finish the peace building begun by Mr McGuinness.

The former US president, who was central to the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, implored today's leaders to pick up where Mr McGuinness left off.

Martin McGuinness: The former IRA leader died aged 66

"He persevered and he prevailed. He risked the wrath of his comrades and the rejection of his adversaries," Mr Clinton said.

"He made honourable compromises and was strong enough to keep them and came to be trusted because his word was good.

Bogside: The coffin was carried through the town as crowds applauded (AP)

"And he never stopped being who he was. A good husband, a good father, a follower of the faith of his father and mother and a passionate believer in a free, secure, self-governing Ireland.

"The only thing that happened was that he shrank the definition of 'us' and expanded the definition of 'them'."

Tribute: Former US President Bill Clinton touches the coffin (PA)

Mr Clinton added: "Our friend earned this vast crowd today. Even more, he earned the right to ask us to honour his legacy by our living. To finish the work that is there to be done."

Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, welcomed dignitaries, public figures and politicians from Ireland, Britain and the US but, turning to the McGuinness family, added: "For you this is not the funeral of a public figure.

"This is a funeral of a husband, father and a grandfather and our first thoughts are inevitably with you."

And he thanked those who had been involved in securing the Good Friday Agreement who travelled for the mass.

Procession: Gerry Adams carries the coffin with Mary Lou McDonald (C), Deputy Leader of Sinn and Michelle O'Neill (LNP)

"It's a tribute to those who didn't just talk the talk but walked the walk of implementing the Good Friday Agreement that all three of those strands are so well represented here," he told mourners.

Inside chief celebrant Father Michael Canny began his homily by asking mourners to join him in sharing thoughts and prayers with the people of London following Wednesday's terror attack.

Mourners were told Mr McGuinness was the IRA commander who became a mainstay of the peace process.

"Republicans were not blameless, and many people right across the community find it difficult to forgive and impossible to forget," he said.

Procession: Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams walks with the funeral cortege leaves St Columba's Church (Getty Images)

"By any standards, Martin McGuinness was a remarkable man and his life was a remarkable journey. The values he had, the principles he championed are still very much alive."

During the slow procession to the church, family members shouldered the coffin, as did members of the Sinn Fein leadership, including Mr Adams and Michelle O'Neill.

Spontaneous applause broke out among the crowds as Mr McGuinness's wife, Bernie, carried the coffin along part of the route the civil rights march took on Bloody Sunday in 1972.