Protests 'bad for peace process' - McGuinness
The past three months have been “bad for the peace process”, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness told a gathering of young republicans in Belfast.
Addressing the Sinn Féin Republican Youth national congress at the Felons Club in Belfast on Saturday, he said recent protests and violence linked to the union flag row had undermined the Belfast Agreement.
Issues of identity had been “cynically used” to promote a “narrow, sectarian agenda”, resulting in “dozens of young Protestants arrested and jailed”.
It would be far better they were “in fora like this, discussing the future with their republican peers, rather than lying in Hydebank or Maghaberry [prisons],” he commented.
Mr McGuinness placed the blame at the feet of unionist political leaders who had “set the path” and then retreated to their “ivory towers, denying culpability and responsibility”.
He said: “I have listened very carefully to the various reasons being put forward by those involved in the protests and in the violence . . . I have met with some of those involved. None of them can excuse what has been happening on our streets.”