McGuinness visits Flanders battlefields
Sinn Féin MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness today visited the battlefields in Flanders where thousands of Irish men and others were killed during the First World War.
Speaking from Flanders, where he was joined by party Vice President Mary Lou MacDonald TD and party chair Declan Kearney MLA, Martin McGuinness said;
"I come here as a proud Irish republican to recognise the deaths of thousands of Irish men during the course of the catastrophic imperialist First World War, which claimed millions of lives.
"It is important I come here as deputy First Minister in a spirit of peace and reconciliation, showing leadership and reaching out the hand of friendship to unionists.
"Tens of thousands of Irish men from across the island died in the First World War and it is important to recognise that. They are part of who we are.
"Recently I have discovered that many republicans, including my colleague in the Executive Office, Conor Heaney, whose great grandfather was killed at the Somme, lost relatives during the First World War.
"I hope this visit is a further step towards reconciliation. It is an opportunity to remember the past in a mature way and to build a better future for everyone."