McGuinness insists 'the war is over'

 

DISSIDENT REPUBLICANS:NORTHERN IRELAND Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has called on dissident republicans to engage in dialogue with Sinn Féin. But he said “the war is over” and the process of building a new future would continue with or without them.

In a keynote address to the party’s ardfheis he said there was “plenty of room within the political process for voices who opposed the Sinn Féin strategy”.

He was offering dissidents an opportunity to “come and tell us what you hope to gain by deluding yourselves and the gullible, that your actions will succeed in what is certainly a pathetic and futile attempt to turn back the clock”.

He also referred to others in Derry involved in shootings and punishment beatings against “vulnerable young people”.

“Over 30 years ago I spoke out against such attacks and I do so again today. These attacks are deplorable, they are not wanted and they need to end,” he said.

A former senior IRA member, he said: “I was part of the conflict. I was there during the difficult and tragic times we had in the past and let me tell you there is nothing romantic about the war.”

He added that “if anyone can claim to understand the mindset of those opposed to peaceful Irish republicanism I think I can”.

The Mid-Ulster MP and MLA said there were those who claimed to be republican and to “still be fighting for Ireland, these people claim they love our country but clearly they don’t love our people as the murder of Ronan Kerr, a young GAA-loving police officer in April last year showed”.

He said he had met Mr Kerr’s mother Nuala Kerr and Kate Carroll, whose husband PSNI officer Steven Carroll was killed in Craigavon.   Addressing unionist concerns, he said: “I recognise there are one million people on this island who are British and let me state here and now that as a proud Irish republican I not only recognise the unionist and British identity, I respect it and in return all I seek is for my Irish identity and tradition to be respected as well.”