The tributes to Martin McGuinness are flowing so thick and fast on his death that it is worth recalling what a truly bad bastard he was. Alex Salmond called him a friend to Scotland in his statement and Tony Blair called him a formidable foe in negotiation. Perhaps, but McGuinness was surely a far more formidable foe to those he terrorised from the other end of a gun throughout his long career as a terrorist mastermind.

What the IRA did under McGuinness and his associates was to take an entirely legitimate grievance – that of discrimination against ‎Catholics in Northern Ireland and the brutality of the old RUC – and weaponise it in pursuit of a Marxist united Ireland that the voters of Ulster and the Republic didn’t want. The “provos” were radicalised by the agit-prop politics of the 1960s and picked up weapons, their heads swimming with images of supposedly glamorous revolutionaries in black berets. Thus attired and equipped they set about a campaign of murder.

Others, humane individuals, proposed change and compromise with the British state without feeling the need to blow men, women and children up.

McGuinness chose murder, sadism, intimidation and gangsterism when there were democratic routes available. John Hume the anti-IRA moderate chose democracy, protest and cooperation throughout his long campaign for reform and peace.

When the peace process came, it was Hume and the moderates on both sides who were squeezed out, in favour of McGuinness and Ian “no surrender” Paisley becoming ministers of the Crown‎.

Oh, and McGuiness and his chums did not choose the peace process out of a sudden stirring of compassion, after a night watching the film Gandhi, or reading the speeches of Martin Luther King. By the early 1990s their terrorist campaign was faltering. They had been heavily infiltrated by the British ‎and their sources of funding and weaponary were starting to dry up, now that the Cold War was over and the US was taking a different attitude to pariah states that aided the provos.

McGuinness saw all this and, as was his way, what with him being clever, moved first. He was canny but spare us the idea he was some kind of hero.