Northern Ireland Assembly to reflect on life of Martin McGuinness

The Northern Ireland Assembly will be convened today to hold a special sitting to allow politicians to reflect on the life of Martin McGuinness.

Traditional protocols have been overridden to mark the death of the 66-year-old former Sinn Fein deputy first minister, as Stormont remains without a power-sharing executive or new speaker.

The IRA commander-turned political leader died on Tuesday morning after a short illness.

Requiem mass is scheduled to be held in Derry on Thursday afternoon.

A candlelit vigil was held in Belfast. Credit: PA

On Tuesday night thousands of people gathered to pay tribute at a candlelit vigil in the republican heartland of west Belfast.

Crowds held black flags aloft and sang the republican ballad I Wish I Was Back Home In Derry.

Addressing the vigil in Belfast, priest Gary Donegan said: "Martin was a hero in life and a hero in death".

Sinn Fein MP for west Belfast Paul Maskey told the crowds: "Martin fought for justice, equality and respect. He was a patriot, a peace maker and a reconciler."

The coffin of the IRA commander-turned political leader was carried through the streets. Credit: PA

However while thousands of republicans lauded the veteran politician, the many victims of the IRA are not prepared to forgive the ex-commander for his paramilitary past.

John Eaglesham, whose father - a postman and part-time soldier - was shot dead by the IRA in 1978, said: "People say about what he has done for the peace process.

"They seem to forget that for a very, very long time he wasn't part of the solution he was part of the problem, in fact he was the main part of the problem".