When I awoke to news that Martin McGuinness, formerly a senior IRA commander with - I'd say - much blood on his hands but later a peacemaking politician, I wondered whether I would end up writing today about his transition from the terrorist leader who grew attracted to the dual approach of the Armalite and ballot-box to mainstream politician with an important role in obtaining and maintaining a flawed peace in Northern Ireland.
I met him a few times while covering the Troubles and cannot say I ever warmed to him any more than I approved of his murderous activities or thought for a second he was right to claim the IRA had some historic mandate to wage war. It was from others, veterans of the earlier stages of the conflict, that I heard of his boast to have made Stroke City (Londonderry/Derry) look like a city bombed from the air with minimal civilian deaths. It was a debatable claim, in any case, and some of those who also reported on the Troubles - with their "good riddance" messages on social media today - continue to regard him as a bloodthirsty terrorist, pure and simple.
In the end, I was not called upon to write about McGuinness's death at 66. But my friend and former colleague, Chris Ryder, who is rightly regarded with huge respect by those who appreciate fair and incisive coverage of Irish affairs, posted these words at Facebook and kindly consented to their reproduction here. I find it a decent and properly balanced appraisal ...
There can be no doubt that Martin McGuinness's fingerprints were indelibly etched on some horrific murders and violence during the long years of conflict.
Understandably, there are many who suffered directly from this phase of his life who cannot and will not forgive him. They must not be condemned for that and any honest appreciation of his life and career must fully recognise the ruthlessness of these activities and his role in them.
But, in time, he came to recognise the futility of violence and the need for a new path of peace, prosperity and pragmatism if he wished to achieve his ultimate goal of a united Ireland.
He also understood that the key to its attainment lay in total reconciliation with Unionism and bringing his fellow Republicans along a parallel path.
Indeed, it is one of his most important political achievements that he held all but the lunatic fringe of the Republican movement together at this critical time, preventing the traditional split and undoubtedly blood spilling feud that would have followed.
Thereafter he used his phenomenal energy and the influence of his leadership and his personal charm - the once cold stare of his eyes was replaced with a charismatic twinkle - to make the finely nuanced terms of the Belfast Agreement work in their entirety.
In so doing he made many noble public gestures, notably by meeting the Queen on several occasions. He developed a warm and constructive working and personal relationship with the equally pragmatic Ian Paisley.
The pathway he was blazing was impeded at many turns by old hostilities, ingrained hatreds and unyielding obstinacy.
He faced them all with courage, patience and pragmatism and his leadership skills, negotiating expertise and instinctive pragmatism will now be lost, not only to Sinn Fein but to the entire political spectrum in Ireland, braced, as it is, for the uncertain impact of Brexit which threatens to compromise and even undo the hard won gains of recent years.
If his terminal illness had not incapacitated him so suddenly towards the end of last year, there can be little doubt his efforts to avert the RHI crisis would have been more impactful and effective and the impasse in which the devolved settlement is now mired would most likely not have arisen.
As ever, the Sinn Fein leadership still clusters around the cameras as the deadlocked negotiations continue but their bluster only emphasises the great vacuum that now exists within that party. His skills will never be more missed than at present.than i approved of his