I understand what drive men of the 60's and 70's to join the IRA but I can't countenance some of their actions once they had joined it. Had they stuck to strictly military or strategic targets most of that would have been defensible but most of the time innocents were targeted. What did the deaths of Nicholas Knatchbull or Paul Maxwell have to do with republicanism or Irish independence? Posters regularly round on Fearon when he defends how the church abused and caused the deaths of hundreds of children but yet can find room to defend the IRA who were complicit in the deaths of many innocent women and children. Many here have recounted stories about the troubles but no amount of harassment at UDR checkpoints or guns being waved in your face is worth the lives of innocent children.
Leaving that aside, I had great time for Martin McGuinness. Too much has been made of his chuckle brother routine with Paisley and using Paisley as a counter-point. His nearest equivalent would have been David Ervine who was also also a paramilitary turned politician and also a man whom held my respect. To their credit both seen the futility of the bloodshed and had a humility in the post-troubles years that to me dictated a sense of remorse for the years of slaughter. That humility I find lacking in Adams, Robinson, Foster and to a certain extent Paisley who all appear/appeared to think that the peace process was their accomplishment as opposed to how they should feel; that the troubles was their fault.
Sadly the highlighted part is not the case.
There were many bad decisions and bad actions. Running the risk of being seen as heartless I do want to add some context.
The IRA were hailed as a major organised and guerrilla army. In reality they were not. This was a tag given to them to justify failed British policy and British Army actions.
Many actions carried out by the IRA were done by young men and women who were terrified, unskilled, angry and revengeful. A potent mix for disaster.
Your comment above is sweeping. I can't fathom that anyone ever thought they were going to kill children. Especially an 18 year old and a 19 year old who tried to take a bomb to a Courthouse in a town they didn't know through a landscape peppered with military security and intelligence.
While you isolate child victims you omit so much else of the context. Regardless if you agree or not history tells us you are wrong. Harassment at check points, in prisons, at protests, in you home, at your place of work (not to mention murder) is cause for for violent reaction. Loyalists were also subject to this and their violent actions in return to IRA actions was also understandable in the real lives of those young people.
There is mountains of evidence of children being indirectly killed when guns and bombs are used in violent response. It's a global reality and it's terrifying. In my view that reality will never become a barrier to people engaging in armed conflict.
It's documented that Martin McGuinness was the top IRA man in Derry at 22 years old. I'd be surprised if he was commanding experienced or trained military personel.