Martin McGuinness Speech To MacGill Summer School
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP will this evening address the annual Patrick MacGill Summer School in Glenties, County Donegal. As part of a wide ranging speech Mr McGuinness will deal with the current efforts to revive the political institutions, the role of the DUP in this and the ongoing efforts by Republicans to deliver an effective and accountable policing service in the north.
Mr McGuinness will say that:
‘The current phase of the political talks are not about the future of the Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement is non-negotiable. It has the democratic endorsement of referenda both north and south and its is binding on both governments. The Good Friday Agreement must be implemented come what may. So the current phase of discussion is about whether or not the implementation of the Agreement will include a 6 county Assembly. No more and no less.’
He will also argue that:
‘The best people to make decisions about the lives of people in the north are people who live there. That is the case with education, the economy, health, the environment and housing. It is widely recognised that local ministers in the short-lived power-sharing executive, including DUP ministers did a much better job that part-time British ministers.’
Mr McGuinness will praise the decision of the IRA to end its armed campaign and deal conclusively with the issue of arms. He will state that the IRA have definitively and comprehensively addressed all of the issues presented as unionist concerns.
On the issue of policing Mr McGuinness will say that he has ‘no doubt that we can achieve with others a transformation on policing which will make it democratic, and accountable and which enjoys community support.
‘Republicans and nationalists who have suffered from partisan policing want a new beginning based on impartiality and accountability more than anyone else.
I have no doubt that some day a republican could hold Ministerial responsibility for policing north and south.’ ENDS
Full address being delivered by Martin McGuinness to MacGill Summer School
RECONCILING ORANGE AND GREEN
A Lecture by Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA
Patrick MacGill Summer School
July 21 2006
Only three weeks ago I visited one of the most heavily militarised region
in the world - the border between the government and the rebel held areas
of Sri Lanka. That stark and frightening frontier was a very visible
expression of the political legacy of colonial occupation in that small
island. Ethnic groups, which had co-existed in relative peace for
centuries, became sworn enemies as a result of the destructive and
divisive effects of imperial domination. In many ways the divisions in Sri
Lanka mirror our own and the method of resolving them is, in my view, the
same. A process of national reconciliation and peace making is essential
and central to that process is dialogue, dialogue and more dialogue.
One big difference between the situations here in Ireland and that in Sri
Lanka is the enormous progress we have already made. The absence of a real
and credible process of engagement in Sri Lanka threatens all out civil
war. In contrast, the progress we have made over the last 12 years is a
direct result of the real and meaningful engagement between nationalism and
the British government, between unionism and the Irish government and to a
more limited extent between unionism and nationalism on this island. Our
peace process is far from perfect but it is an undoubted success. The
Ireland we live in now is a very different place from the Ireland of war
and conflict that existed 12 years ago. It is a very different place from
the totalitarian Orange state that existed in the north 40 years ago. The
Irish peace process is in many ways the reworking of the relationships
between unionism and the rest of the people of this island. And between
all of us on this island and the British government.
British policy in Ireland has historically been the catalyst for conflict
and division in our country. That has to end.
A successful peace process is ultimately about ending the divisive
influence and effects of the British jurisdiction on this island. That is
Sinn Fein’s core political objective.
In the interim, the Good Friday Agreement is about removing the most
extreme aspects and consequences of partition. It is about delivering
acceptable policing arrangements, ending discrimination, protecting
cultural and language rights, defending human rights and delivering a
demilitarised, politically tolerant and inclusive society.
The current phase of the political talks are not about the future of the
Good Friday Agreement. The Good Friday Agreement is non-negotiable. It has
the democratic endorsement of referenda both north and south and its is
binding on both governments. The Good Friday Agreement must be implemented
come what may. So the current phase of discussion is about whether or not
the implementation of the Agreement will include a 6 county Assembly. No
more and no less.
The only obstacle to the restoration of that Assembly and the
power-sharing executive is the refusal of the DUP to be part of these
institutions. That is their prerogative but let there be no doubt that the
process of change will continue and it is better for all of us in political
leadership, and for our constituents, if we are directing and managing that
process of change through a functioning power-sharing Executive. That would
certainly be preferable to the bad decisions that are being taken every day
by British direct rule ministers.
But I also believe that a functioning Assembly, with a power-sharing
Executive and cross-community safeguards, is the best and most efficient
means of building trust, confidence and mutual understanding between Irish
Republicans and unionists. It is the best way of sustaining and
progressing the enormous work already achieved in reconciling Orange and
It is also the best way of tackling the very real issues that affect all
of the people of the north - and on the island of Ireland. The reality is
that partition has failed. It has failed the people in the south. It has
failed nationalists in the north. It has failed the very community it was
designed to safeguard. It has failed unionists.
Unionist working class communities suffer high unemployment and
educational under achievement.
No one any longer argues that there is any economic merit in the partition
of this small island. On the contrary all economic advantage lies in
Ireland as a single island economy.
No unionist leader can believe that British direct rule is a good thing.
It has resulted in job losses, privatisation, increased rates, water
charges, education cuts, falling incomes for those working in agriculture,
a failure to produce any strategy to deal with suicide prevention, and
The best people to make decisions about the lives of people in the north
are people who live there. That is the case with education, the economy,
health, the environment and housing. It is widely recognised that local
ministers in the short-lived power-sharing executive, including DUP
ministers did a much better job that part-time British ministers.
So also with policing and justice. Last week, here at the Mac Gill Summer
School, the British Secretary of State addressed this issue and criticised
Sinn Fein for demanding that the Good Friday Agreement commitments on
policing and justice be implemented and delivered in full. So I want to
address this issue directly. Sinn Fein wants to see a community police
service, representative and democratically accountable to the people they
serve through a locally elected minister.
People have a basic right to feel safe in their homes and communities.
They have a right to a police service which will act impartially and which
will behave in a responsible and accountable way. They have a right to a
police service which does not engage in political policing. They have a
right to a police service which is not run by MI5 or any other British
Sinn Féin is not holding back on policing as Peter Hain tried to suggest.
Indeed many nationalists are puzzled by the foot dragging of the British
government and ask why seven years on from the Patten Commission’s report
we are still awaiting further policing legislation. Has it anything to do
with Britain’s efforts to cover up decades of state collusion with
loyalist death squads?
Republicans have a vested interest in the creation and delivery of proper
policing. It is our communities which have suffered most as a result of
decades of a unionist militia posing as a police service. We are
determined that an effective police service, which is democratic and
accountable, becomes part of the fabric of life in the Six Counties and the
Substantial progress has been made in relation to policing because of the
work of republicans. We have made sure that the British can’t walk away
from this issue. Policing has been and continues to be a central part of
ongoing political negotiations.
I am absolutely convinced that the final pieces can be put in place if the
two governments live up to their commitments on transfer of powers and if
the political will exists amongst all the political parties.
I have no doubt that we can achieve with others a transformation on
policing which will make it democratic, and accountable and which enjoys
Republicans and nationalists who have suffered from partisan policing want
a new beginning based on impartiality and accountability more than anyone
I have no doubt that some day a republican could hold Ministerial
responsibility for policing north and south. The need for accountable
policing is nowhere more obvious than in the activities of some members of
the Garda Siochana in this county over many, many years. The focus of Sinn
Fein is on transforming policing, not accepting a failed status quo.
Sinn Fein wants to work with unionist to deliver this and to deliver the
wider benefits of a stable and effective local administration. I know that
many unionists care deeply about their community. They want to see
stability, peace and prosperity and they have worked with Sinn Féin in
committees and in local council chambers councils. Yet the DUP remains
implacably opposed to the restoration of a locally elected and accountable
Unionism, and the DUP in particular, need to come to terms with the new
political world in which we are living. There is no excuse any longer for
Last year the Sinn Fein President appealed to the IRA to take the
courageous step of committing themselves to purely political means and
resolving the issue of IRA weapons. I endorsed Gerry Adams appeal in the
speech I made here in the Glenties last July. The IRA responded by
definitively and comprehensively addressing all of these issues, which had
been presented as unionist concerns about the IRA’s future intentions.
Those IRA decisions opened up new and unprecedented opportunities for
progress towards national reconciliation and of an historic accommodation
between Orange and Green. But unionism also faces challenges and choices
in this project. If they claim to be democrats, then the Democratic
Unionist Party has to accept and respect the electoral mandate of Sinn
Fein. Sinn Fein is the largest nationalist party in the north; Sinn Fein
is the third largest and the fastest growing party on the island.
Republicans and nationalists have great difficulty in the concept of
sharing power with Ian Paisley who for decades churned out sectarian and
religious extremism. On July 12 this year we were treated to more of the
same. But despite this, Sinn Fein does recognise and accept the DUP’s
These are the current political realities which we all have to come to
terms with if we are to put conflict, hatred and division behind us. We
can continue to disagree politically but that should not prevent us
delivering accountable, democratic government for our shared
constituencies. It should certainly not prevent us building a better more
peaceful future for all our children. And the only way to do this is
through political dialogue.
But whatever the approach of Ian Paisley in the months ahead, the reality
is that the process of change will continue. And the best option for
unionists and the rest of us is to collectively manage the changes that are
Regardless of the disposition of the DUP, republicans will continue to
engage with unionist communities. Republicans and loyalists are already
working together with enormous benefits for their respective communities
in interface areas. This summer these on-the-ground efforts and initiatives
delivered the most peaceful marching season in decades. The DUP played no
part in any of this. However, the DUP need to acknowledge and learn the
positive lessons of these local engagements.
Ten years ago we would have been talking theoretically about the need to
reconcile Orange and Green. In the Ireland of 2006, we are now taking
about completing a process that is already well underway and which has
already been enormously successful.
The process of reconciling Orange and Green is already happening based on
principles of equality, inclusivity and mutual respect.
And as this process progresses we have new challenges to deal with. We can
no longer talk only about two historic traditions on the island. We now
have many new Irish who bring their own traditions, perspectives and
cultures to our island. A small minority on this island have responded to
these challenges negatively through racist intolerance and violence. We
need to confront sectarianism wherever it occurs and we also need to
confront, with as much determination and energy, racism wherever it
occurs. The New Ireland that we are all part of needs to reconcile Orange
and Green but it also needs to embrace new cultures and people. We all
need to acknowledge and accept difference - to celebrate the enriching
diversity of our modern, multi-cultural Ireland.”ENDS