McGuinness calls for the removal of preconditions to all party talks


SINN Fein's chief negotiator with the British government yesterday called on the British and Irish governments to remove what he called the preconditions in the way of all party peace talks.

Speaking at a rally in Derry to mark the 25th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, Mr Martin McGuinness said that, in time, everyone would recognise the need for a negotiated settlement.

The people who marched on Bloody Sunday a quarter of a century ago were brave people whose march against injustices had helped to change history and who marched in the knowledge that they could be killed, he said.

"We are not the only people to suffer in this conflict. Others have suffered, too. People have suffered in Enniskillen, they have suffered on the Shankill Road, they have suffered on the streets of London.

"It's almost as if the British government in 1968 placed us all on a roller coaster of injustice and hatred and bitterness and murder.

"We in the Sinn Fein leadership moved along with John Hume and with the Irish Government, with the support of the international community, to stop the roller coaster, to break the vicious circle, to bring about a conflict resolution situation in this country because dialogue is the key, and that is what is required.

We presented the British government with an opportunity which lasted 18 months during which time they never moved to put in place one word of credible peace negotiation.

"We have declared for peace. We know there are two roads before us. One is a road to further conflict and one is the road to the negotiation table. We have declared ourselves, and I redeclare ourselves, in favour of travelling to the negotiation table. There is nowhere else for us to go.

"The British government, or the next British government, needs to recognise and understand that there is still hope within the opportunity that we have helped create. The road to peace is through justice, it is through equality, it is through an end to discrimination, it is through happiness, it is, through people recognising what is required to resolve this conflict.

"In my opinion, Gerry Adams and John Hume have laid before all the participants a template which, if it is taken up by the British Government, is capable of moving all this forward.

"We want to see peace, but that can only come at the negotiation table. That table can only be arrived at when the British government and the Irish Government recognise the need to move decisively, without preconditions" Mr McGuinness said.