Tony Blair to miss Martin McGuinness' funeral

Former British PM Tony Blair and Martin McGuinness
Former British PM Tony Blair and Martin McGuinness

Former British prime minister Tony Blair will not be attending the funeral of the Sinn Fein leader he considers vital to realising one of his own "greatest achievements".

A number of media reports have suggested the ex-Labour leader would be in Derry today to pay his respects to Martin McGuinness – the pair having worked closely during the peace process and negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement. However, a spokeswoman for Mr Blair said those reports were compiled "without asking us first whether he would be".

The spokeswoman said Mr Blair’s staff would have been happy to clarify that he would not be attending if requested to do so, and said that media outlets had "erroneously reported that he would be attending without bothering to check the facts first".

In a television interview with CNN following the death of the 66-year-old former deputy first minister on Tuesday morning, the presenter suggested the signing of the Good Friday Agreement was one of Mr Blair’s "greatest achievements" and asked if it would have been possible without Martin McGuinness.

"No," he replied.

"Without Martin McGuinness I don’t think it would ever have been possible to conclude the Good Friday Agreement and to have made the peace process work," Mr Blair added.

The funeral of Mr McGuinness will take place at St Columba’s Long Tower church at 2pm.