New Year Message from Martin McGuinness MLA
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MLA in a New Year message has said that he hoped 2013 would see the seeds of reconciliation among and between all our people grow.
Mr McGuinness said that there would be many challenges to overcome in 2013 but that he looked forward with hope and ambition.
Mr McGuinness said:
"I look forward to 2013 with hope and ambition.
During the last 12 months the unfinished journey of our Peace Process has continued to unfold.
I am pleased that we overcame significant challenges and successfully advanced important developments, including sign off on the Long Kesh/Maze site, and real progress in attracting new investment and jobs in the north. However, the world wide economic crisis has also left many of our citizens jobless and driven many employers to the wall. I am absolutely determined that the efforts of the Executive will intensify next year to protect existing jobs and create new employment.
The Executive, Assembly, and North South Ministerial Council have addressed substantial issues of economic and social concern affecting our people and I am committed to seeing this work built upon.
I believe that all our politicians must unite against the punishing austerity policies driven by the Tory/LibDem coalition in London. Our priority must be to protect the most vulnerable in society; defend public services; and, to support small businesses, employers, and the agricultural industry. I pledge to promote an agenda aimed at developing our local and island economy on the basis of balanced development, despite the limits forced upon us by the denial of fiscal powers by the British Exchequer.
I earnestly hope that we will continue to move towards the development of a new phase in our Peace Process in 2013, and that the seeds of reconciliation among and between all our people will grow. My decision to meet Queen Elizabeth during her visit to Belfast earlier this year was a sincere effort on my behalf to advance reconciliation between republicans and unionists and consolidate our Peace Process.
2012 heralded the beginning of a decade of centenary commemorations. I dearly hope that this era will become one in which we at last replace division with new human and political relationships, and forge lasting peace and friendship between our communities, and the islands of Ireland and Britain.
Some in our society still oppose that vision, but they are wrong to do so. Our future must be one of reconciliation, and the politics of hope and change.
In taking all of this forward we will of course face many challenges, not least the continuing blight of sectarianism and segregation. Meeting these will require imagination and compromise. But compromise discriminates against no one and benefits us all. And I am determined that we will see the publication of a CSI strategy in the time ahead.
As our society continues to change in 2013 considerable leadership and generosity will be needed from all political, civic, church and community leaders. Equality and mutual respect should threaten no section of our society.
I pledge myself to work with everyone in promoting inclusivity and respect for all traditions and identities. In such a context respect for our different national identities, traditions and symbols becomes possible.
Let us work as one society to embrace these challenges in 2013, and advance reconciliation in our time."