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Joint statement from McGuinness and Paisley Snr on the post of Commissioner for Victims and Survivors

8 October, 2007

Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA has issued a joint statement with Ian Paisley Snr about the post of the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors.

Mr McGuinness said:

"We have decided that we should extend the appointment process and re-advertise the position.

"We believe that re-advertising the post now against the background of a fully functioning Executive will bring forward a greater number of candidates. Victims and survivors are a key priority for us and we want them to see that we are searching as widely as possible.

"The successful candidate will also know that they will have the unwavering support of the First Minister and myself as they address the needs of all those who have suffered great personal loss over the years. This morning we are appealing for all those who believe they have a contribution to make to this vitally important task to come forward and apply.

"We would like to stress at this point that this decision in no way reflects on the people who were deemed appointable under the direct rule process. We fully acknowledge both their calibre and commitment. In fact we are asking those individuals if they would agree to their names being carried forward into this newly extended process. They won't have to reapply, will not be re-interviewed, and will be considered along with any further applicants who are deemed appointable.

"The final stage of the process will involve a presentation to Dr Paisley and myself personally by all candidates deemed appointable before a final decision is made. We consider this to be an essential new element of the appointment process.

"In making our decision we have consulted fully with the Commissioner for Public Appointments and she is content with our approach. What we have decided is designed to serve the public interest and to achieve the statutory purpose to the fullest.

"We have already asked our officials to take this newly extended process forward. This will entail, among other things, a further advertisement for the post. We intend to announce the new Commissioner for Victims and Survivors before the end of the year.

"In closing, we would like to say that we have not played politics with this issue - it is much too important to us. We have simply done what the people would expect us to do; we have deliberated long and hard before jointly coming to what we both emphatically believe to be the right decision for everyone. There has already been too much ill-informed comment and controversy about this issue. We must avoid compromising the appointment procedure and are therefore not going to make any further comment today. All we ask now is that no one else should play political games with our decision. We think everyone would agree that the victims and survivors deserve better than that." ENDS

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