08 September 2005

DUP will talk to republicans: SF


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Speaking on the Falls Road yesterday Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness insisted that the Democratic Unionist Party will talk directly with republicans.

Mr McGuinness was speaking as Sinn Féin launched a major rally headlined ‘Make Partition History’, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 24 in Dublin. Addressing a Belfast news conference, the Mid-Ulster MP predicted that the coming months will be “vitally, critically important” for the peace process.

Mr McGuinness also urged unionist political leaders to speak out strongly against ongoing paramilitary violence which is emanating from the unionist community.

Asked about the negative reaction of unionists following the IRA’s decision to end its armed campaign, Mr McGuinness commented: “On the republican side we understand our responsibilities in terms of how we convince people in our community that violence is not the way forward and that the peace process is the best way forward.

“I think that the instability is more related to the internal dynamics of unionism and the concerns that unionists have about their future, concerns that can be allayed by decisive leadership, by courageous leadership from unionist leaders,” Mr McGuinness said.

“What I’m saying is very clear and I think very, very important. We as Irish republicans are only interested in moving forward to a united Ireland by peaceful and democratic means.

“Now, that appears to frighten some unionist leaders.

“I think that they need to overcome their fears and the best way to overcome their fears is to engage with republican leaders about the future and the only way we can do that – and the peace process proves it – is by dialogue.

“The coming weeks are going to be vitally, critically important. I think the coming weeks will provide an opportunity for Ian Paisley to reassess where he’s coming from and to give much more enlightened and courageous leadership to unionists at this time,” Mr McGuinness said.

Notably, Mr McGuinness compared the current political period with the years before the 1994 IRA ceasefire, during which the British government had secretly engaged in private talks with the Sinn Féin leadership through senior officials.
Calling for republicans across Ireland to attend the ‘Make Partition History’ rally on September 24, Mr McGuinness said, “Sinn Féin are encouraging people from all walks of life to come along and enjoy the Carnival and Rally on September 24 to show that the desire and demand for Irish unity amongst the ordinary Irish people is as strong today as it ever was.

“Our goal is the reunification of our country and an end to British jurisdiction in it. We are confident it will be realised.”

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney

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