James Martin Pacelli McGuinness (born May 23, 1950 in Derry, Northern Ireland) is an Irish politician who is the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. He is a member of Sinn Fein, which is a political party that wants Northern Ireland to join with the Republic of Ireland and leave the United Kingdom. He is the Member of Parliament and Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the constituency of Mid Ulster.
Martin McGuiness joined the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in 1970 and was put in prison for six months in 1973. He was elected the Member of Parliament for Mid-Ulster at the 1997 General Election but never took his seat in the House of Commons. This is because Sinn Fein members do not want to swear any oath to the Queen. McGuiness was one of Sinn Fein's top debaters at the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and was elected as a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 for the constituency of Mid Ulster. He was the Minister of Education in the Northern Ireland executive from 1999 to 2002. On May 8 2007, following the St. Andrew's Agreement Martin McGuiness was made the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party was the First Minister until June 5, 2008 when he was replaced by Peter Robinson.