Symbol of Northern Irish Peace Process McGuinness Retires

Martin McGuinness, who rose from a Irish republican paramilitary fighting against British rule of Northern Ireland to deputy leader of the region’s parliament, retired from politics as he recovers from illness.

Sinn Fein’s McGuinness, 66, resigned as the region’s deputy first minister earlier his month after First Minister Arlene Foster refused to step aside pending an investigation into how the cost of a subsidized energy program spiraled out of control. The first minister and deputy first minister effectively jointly led the region’s assembly, and neither position can exist without the other.

McGuinness’s personal journey reflected the changes in Northern Irish politics. When he became deputy first minister of the region in 2007, he served alongside Ian Paisley - one of the most vocal unionist lawmakers and a traditional enemy of republicans such as McGuinness.

In 2012, the man who was once imprisoned for fighting against British rule shook hands with U.K. monarch Queen Elizabeth II -- something that would have been unthinkable only a few years earlier.

The U.K. government called elections to Northern Ireland’s power-sharing assembly on March 2, insisting the vote won’t delay its plans to exit the EU.

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