A new book on Martin McGuinness is to be launched in Derry next week to mark the first anniversary of the republican leader's death.

The book 'Martin: The Man I Knew' by retired academic Jude Collins was compiled following a series of interviews with some of the people who knew McGuinness best.

Derry-born writer Collins (pictured) himself first met Mr McGuinness when he was doing a number of short research interviews with people involved in education.

Derry-born writer Jude Collins Derry-born writer Jude Collins.

Included in the 27 chapters are contributions from old friends and IRA comrades, political opponents and former enemies, and representatives from the British, Irish and US governments.

Former University of Ulster lecturer Collins said: "I had spoken to Martin about writing his biography about two years before he died, but because of his commitments to work, and in Stormont, we never got a chance to carry out the series of interviews I would have needed.

"After he died, I still felt a real hankering to write a book about him. So I spoke to a number of people and asked them if they would be interested in talking to me about him, and I was delighted with the people who said they would."

First Minister Ian Paisley and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness after being sworn in as ministers of the Northern Ireland Assembley, Stormont.

Among those Collins successful approached were US envoy Senator George Mitchell, British government advisor Jonathon Powell and Ian Paisley's widow Eileen.

Mrs Paisley speaks fondly of the influence she believes her husband, Ian, had on Mr McGuinness.

Collins said: "She spoke with such warmth and enthusiasm and while I mightn't necessarily agree with her analysis of Martin's journey from IRA man to politician, I am very grateful to her for her contributions."

McGuinness, Northern Ireland's former deputy first minister, died last March 21, aged 66.

It is understood that the former IRA leader, who became a pivotal peacemaker, had been suffering from a rare heart condition.

Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen of Britain sent a private message to Mr McGuinness' widow Bernadette.

'The Man I Knew' by Jude Collins (Mercier Press) will be launched next Wednesday, March 21, at Eason's in Derry by Fr Michael Canny and Rev David Latimer.

Joe Brolly will host the Belfast launch the following night, while Bertie Ahern will preside at the Dublin event on Friday, March 23.

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