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Doherty renews call to invite Paisley and McGuinness to address Seanad

5 March, 2008

In light of the announcement from Ian Paisley that he will resign as First Minister in the North and as leader of the DUP Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has re-iterated his call for Mr. Paisley and Martin McGuinness to be invited to address the Seanad to mark the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and to debate the Peace Process.

Speaking in the Seanad today Senator Doherty said, "I want to echo, in the presence of the Leader, the statement I made yesterday in his absence concerning the need for a debate on the Six Counties as a matter of urgency.

"I mentioned yesterday that it was likely that Ian Paisley would leave office in the not-to-distant future. The announcement of this has now occurred. We now have a deadline within which the debate should be held.

"As part of the debate I have asked that all parties in the House support the call I have made to invite the North's First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, to come to the Chamber and lead the debate to mark the tenth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

"I welcome the public support expressed yesterday by the leader of the Fine Gael Party, Senator Frances Fitzgerald, in this regard, but I ask other parties to provide their support also.

"I too wish Ian Paisley well and I am conscious of the role he has played in the last number of years in bringing Unionism to its current position in terms of power-sharing.

"However, I am also conscious that he has led a party that has denied civil rights to Nationalists and republicans in the Six Counties for many decades. He has been part of the problem. Many of those in his own party still remain opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.

"Sinn Féin will work with whoever succeeds Ian Paisley as leader of the DUP and as First Minister. However, whoever that person is will be faced with significant challenges including the transfer of policing and justice powers to the Assembly, the Irish Language Act, a Bill of Rights and more. It is important the new leader of Unionism comes to these issues positively." ENDS

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