McGuinness calls on civic society to engage with peace process

Deputy First Minister condemns online abuse of teacher at Sinn Féin ardfheis

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinnesstold the  Sinn Féin Ard Fheis that sectarianism was ‘no different to racism, sexism or homophobia. They are all wrong. They are all evil.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinnesstold the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis that sectarianism was ‘no different to racism, sexism or homophobia. They are all wrong. They are all evil.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 15:11

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has called for civic society in the North to become engaged in the debate to push the peace process forward.

In his second address to the party’s ardfheis at the Wexford Opera House, he asked the public to get involved.

“I would appeal to civic society in the North, to the churches, the unions and ordinary citizens who are wedded to the peace process to make your voices heard.”

The North’s Deputy First Minister told about 600 delegates at this morning’s session that “no longer can your voices be drowned out by the rejectionists who have over the course of the past 12 months sought to use flags, parades and the past to undermine the progress made over the course of the past 20 years”.

He also said: “Sectarianism is no different to racism, sexism or homophobia. They are all wrong. They are all evil.”

Mr McGuinness hit out at the “disgraceful online abuse targeted against a young teacher and Sinn Féin councillor, Catherine Seely”.

He said “the forcing of Catherine from her job as a school teacher in North Belfast has been motivated entirely by sectarian hatred and prejudice and driven by an unrepresentative and nasty anti-peace process group of extreme loyalists”.

He said if this situation was reversed “and a young Protestant teacher, also a member of the DUP, was being forced from her job in a Catholic school, I would be at the door accompanying her to her work”.

Mr McGuinness said pupils at Boys Model school had shown “courage and leadership” in support of Ms Seely and “the local DUP MP could learn a lot from them”.

Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald accused the Government of trying to use the past to vilify republicans.

“Their cynical abuse of the suffering of some victims, to avoid answer questions about corruption in this state is shameful.”

Calling for Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to re-engage with the peace process, she said that “instead of resorting to cheap soundbytes in the Dáil” they should “do what they have been elected to do and stand up for the interests of the people of this country”.

“That’s means re-engaging with the peace process, not just by making speeches on the media, but by being involved in real discussions and planning on the outstanding from agreements which they signed up to and promised to deliver.”

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