'Militarist factions' in North denounced by McGuinness


MacGill Summer School:DEPUTY FIRST Minister Martin McGuinness has launched a strong attack on “militarist factions” and “criminal elements” who he says are out to derail the peace process in Northern Ireland.

Denouncing those responsible for the recent violence, the former IRA leader said there were still “small groups and individuals” who could not grasp that the changes resulting from the peace process were unstoppable.

“They can be found in the unrepresentative militarist factions who continue to carry out armed actions and the criminal elements who operate under the cover of bogus patriots.

“This was graphically illustrated last week in Ardoyne, where it is widely believed that many of those who sat on the road wearing T-shirts describing themselves as, ‘residents not dissidents’, told those anxious for a riot, many of them children, to do so only after they had left the road.”

He had sharp words also for the Orange Order who, he said, “appear rooted to the past and unwilling to join with the rest of us in making necessary compromises in the interests of peace and progress”.

“They continue to refuse to talk to nationalists and hold the rest of society to ransom, over a tiny number of contentious parades out of thousands of Loyal Order marches each summer,” he said.

By taking a generous approach, the Orangemen could build a new relationship with their Catholic neighbours: “My door remains open to them always.”

Delivering the opening lecture in honour of Nobel laureate and former SDLP leader John Hume, Mr McGuinness told the school at Glenties: “Ireland needs a process of national reconciliation.”

On the theme of this year’s MacGill School, Reforming the Republic, he said that, for him, this “does not mean tinkering with two partitioned political and economic systems on our small island”.

“It is futile to speak of ‘renewing the republic’ or ‘reforming the republic’ without addressing the need to end partition and to bring together all the people of Ireland.”

Calling for an all-island debate, involving unionists, on achieving Irish unity by peaceful means, he said:  “A start could be made next year by granting to Irish citizens in the six counties the right to vote in the presidential election. The current Uachtarán na hÉireann is a native of Belfast but if she had still lived there at the time of her election she would not have been able to vote for herself.

“Provision should be made for such voting rights, not only for citizens in the North, but also for Irish citizens living abroad.

“Voting rights are granted by many states to their citizens living abroad, within a reasonable period from their leaving the home country.

“At a time of renewed mass emigration it would be a real recognition of the importance and value of our recent exiles if such rights were granted,” Mr McGuinness said, according to an advance script.

The school was opened by former taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald and this year’s speakers include Tánaiste Mary Coughlan, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.

The week’s events began with a service of commemoration for deceased MacGill School contributors, including the late president Patrick Hillery, Dr Noel Browne, David Ervine MLA,  Msgr Denis Faul and singer Bernadette Greevy.