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Martin McGuinness calls on DUP to meet power sharing challenge

7 January, 2007


Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness is in Limerick this afternoon to address an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Seán Sabhat, who was killed alongside Feargal Ó hAnnluain in County Fermanagh on New Years day 1957 during the IRAs Border Campaign. Chairing the commemoration will be Maurice Quinlivan, the party's representative and candidate in Limerick.

During the course of a wide-ranging address Mr McGuinness said "So let me put a challenge out to a man who describes himself as a plain speaking Ulsterman. Ian, are you going to share power with nationalists and republicans by March 26th? This is a simple question. It requires a simple answer.

A positive response from Ian Paisley will clearly move the current situation forward.

"Sinn Féin has continually demonstrated our willingness to stretch ourselves and take risks in order to make this process work. We want the process to move forward, we want to share power with the DUP, we want to see the issue of policing resolved. But others have responsibilities they need to meet.

Mr McGuinness said:

"Significant advances have been made in recent times. The DUP, the party formed to oppose power sharing has been brought to a point of sharing power. Consider the prospect of Ian Paisley the 'No' man of Irish politics, sitting on the all-Ireland Ministerial Council with Sinn Féin and the rest of the parties on this island. That is what will happen if the process moves ahead. That is the challenge facing the DUP today?

"If DUP members are to hold Ministerial office it will be within the power sharing and all-Ireland arrangements set out in the Good Friday Agreement. But while the DUP have without any doubt been brought closer to that point, ignore the spin of London and Dublin that they have arrived there - they have not. There is no point pretending otherwise. After St. Andrews talks Ian Paisley indicated that he would share power. He has yet to say when. He has yet to say he will do so by March 26th following the elections. He has yet to say he agrees with the the transfer of powers on policing and justice by May 2008. So let me put a challenge out to a man who describes himself as a plain speaking Ulsterman.

"Ian, are you going to share power with nationalists and republicans by March 26th? This is a simple question. It requires a simple answer.

"A positive response from Ian Paisley clearly moves the current situation forward. It would be seen by many as the DUP finally beginning the journey towards accepting equality for all citizens. So let Ian Paisley rise to the challenge set for him and his party. Sinn Féin has continually demonstrated our willingness to stretch ourselves and take risks in order to make this process work. We want the process to move forward, we want to share power with the DUP, we want to see the issue of policing resolved. But others have responsibilities they need to meet.

While the main focus needs to remain on the British government and the DUP, there also needs to be an examination of the disappointing role played by the Irish government throughout these negotiations. Today's comments from the Taoiseach, challenging the DUP, while welcome, are not sufficient. Much more is required than his commentary. The Irish government needs to re-engage fully in the process.

Mr. McGuinness called on republicans to participate in the debate which has begun in the party. He said:

The debate that is currently underway within our party and community is vitally important. But this debate cannot simply be reduced down to policing or to support for the PSNI. The Ard Chomhairle have indicated that we will move to an Ard Fheis to discuss this issue in the context of a positive response coming from the DUP. We await that response. But people should not become distracted by the DUP. People here need to focus on our strategy, on our objectives.

The current phase is about much more than policing. It is about the sort of vision we as republicans have for the future shape of this island. It is about how we realise that vision. It is about how we move from a situation of partition and division to a situation where we achieve sovereignty and unity.

Addressing the upcoming elections he said:

"So let us grasp the opportunities which will come our way in the course of the next year. Let us be sure that when we gather here again next year that we have all here done everything that we can. That we have ensured that seats are not left behind in any of the elections we will face this year through lack of effort. Our project is bigger than that. Our struggle is bigger than that.

Maurice Quinlivan here in Limerick has been making steady progress over recent years. Anna Prior in Clare will this time out seek build upon the impressive vote which came out of that county for Pearse Doherty in the last EU election. So people here need to get involved, to get active in the coming weeks and to deliver the biggest possible vote we can and return the strongest possible team to Leinster House.

Sean Sabhat and Feargal Ó hAnnluain when faced with a difficult choice made the right decision. They paid a heavy price. Their families continue to pay that price and I salute them here today and send our continuing solidarity to them.

I believe that we are on the road to freedom. The final phase of liberation struggle is often the most difficult. Diarmaid Ó Donnchadha giving the oration at the graveside of Seán Sabhat said: "He died for my freedom; for my sake, for your sake, for the sake of the generations that are to come ... let his life and his death be a lesson and a guide to all of us.'

All of our patriot dead continue to guide us and provide inspiration for us. If we stay solid and stay focused on our objectives and ideals then I believe that we can turn the vision which Sean Sabhat held into reality.." ENDS

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