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Fine Words not enough to end sectarianism – Martin McGuinness

20 September, 2007


Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has told a peace conference today that condemnation of sectarianism and racism is not enough to bring it to an end.

Speaking at the 5th Annual Conference of the Centre for Peace Building in Donegal he said:

"Ending sectarianism and racism goes further than fine words. It requires give and take, compromise, accommodation and hard work.

"If we are to build a society where there is respect for all cultures and traditions there can be no place for intolerance or making excuses for those who demonstrate such attitudes in their behavior.

"Everyone has a responsibility, and a role to play, in creating a society that is at ease with the diversity of individuals and whole communities. We also have a responsibility to build the prosperous and equal society which will ultimately undermine sectarian and racist mindsets."

Mr McGuinness said the theme of the conference "Bringing an end to sectarianism and racism" represented the vision which he and First Minister, Ian Paisley have set for themselves.

"Our aim has been to show the importance that the Executive places on tackling all forms of intolerance and the need to include all people in our society, regardless of their background. I believe that message and our commitment to it is having a significant impact.

"People across our traditional communities are now reaching out to build relationships, not only with each other, but also with the growing number of new communities establishing themselves here in Ireland. There is a lot to be learned from their presence with us and through the experience of integrating those important new members of our society.

"The importance of moving towards a society where there is respect and understanding of each others traditions cannot be stressed enough. Differences in our society must cease to be barriers. Difference must be recognised and appreciated and celebrated.

"I believe this is a tremendous time in our history. A time of opportunity - if grasped. Not to do so would be foolish in the extreme."

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  1. An Teach Bán: Centre for Peace Building was established in 1985 to provide a space for respite for community groups and individuals experiencing community conflict. It is situated in Downings, Co Donegal.
  2. With the advent of Peace Funding the group developed a strong peace building and community relations focus specialising in cross-border work with women's groups, victims groups and community organisations.

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