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Recognition of Northern Ireland politician with IRA ties prompts international outcry

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A posthumous honor of a Northern Ireland politician issued in advance of San Francisco’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has prompted an international controversy. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)

Mayor London Breed on Monday issued an apology Monday in response to an international outcry over a posthumous honor issued last week for a Northern Ireland politician with IRA ties.

The proclamation, which was issued Friday, honors Martin McGuiness, a former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, for his “courageous service in the military and as a negotiator” which “helped cement and shape the Northern Ireland Peace Process and construct the Good Friday Agreement.”

The mayor issued the honor to McGuiness at the request of the United Irish Societies of San Francisco, which named McGuiness this year as one of five honorary grand marshalls for The City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

But as the SF Weekly reported Sunday, McGuiness was reportedly a senior commander in the Provisional IRA for many years before he moved into politics, and the honor has been condemned by many in Northern Ireland, where memories of years of violent bombings and other attacks remain fresh.

Breed on Monday issued a statement apologizing for the “pain” the honor has caused.

“San Francisco values means respect for the democratic process and non-violent political actions,” she said. “The Language on the Certificate of Honor should have taken more care to apply these values when reflecting the history of Mr. McGuiness’ life towards peacemaker and his role in the Peace Process that resulted in the Good Friday agreement.”

McGuiness died in 2017.

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