May says McGuinness played defining role in Northern Ireland's path to peace

FILE PHOTO: Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness speaks to reporters at a news conference February 26, 1998. REUTERS/Paul Hackett/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute on Tuesday to Martin McGuinness, the late former Irish Republican Army commander and deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, saying he had played a pivotal role in the province's path to peace.

"While I can never condone the path he took in the earlier part of his life, Martin McGuinness ultimately played a defining role in leading the Republican movement away from violence," May said in a statement.

"In doing so, he made an essential and historic contribution to the extraordinary journey of Northern Ireland from conflict to peace."

McGuinness, whose journey from street fighter to peacemaker began in the 1970s during Northern Ireland's "Troubles", died aged 66 after a short illness, his party Sinn Fein said.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes