Irish Election Shows Signs of Erasing Boundaries

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GALWAY, Ireland — On an autumn evening beside the storied beauty of Galway Bay, with a chilly gust blowing off the Atlantic, Martin McGuinness breezed into a popular tourist hotel that looks out across the bay with the air of a man who has found a measure of peace after a lifetime gripped by Ireland’s troubled past.

And so, in effect, he has. He was an Irish Republican Army gunman at the age of 18, and by 21 an I.R.A. commander on Bloody Sunday, the grim day in 1972 when British troops killed 14 protesters in his native Derry, in Northern Ireland. Now 61 and deputy first minister in the power-sharing government in Belfast, Mr. McGuinness has set his sights on a new job — a goal that has him disavowing the violence of the past, and refuting accusations that he was responsible for ordering murders in his I.R.A. days.

On Thursday, after a 40-day campaign as the candidate of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Republican movement, Mr. McGuinness will be one of seven candidates in an election for the largely ceremonial post of president of the Irish Republic. Although he is unlikely to win, his success in attracting significant levels of support — about 15 percent in last weekend’s surveys, down from close to 20 percent in polls earlier in the campaign — has been taken by many in Ireland as a new sign of the winds of reconciliation blowing across the island....

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