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'Time to begin discussing how to heal shared hurts'

Published 21/04/2014

John Manley Political Reporter




SINN Fein's Martin McGuinness has acknowledged the hurt republicans inflicted over the course of the Troubles but he has urged unionists to recognise that the process was not all one-sided.

Speaking in Monaghan at an event to commemorate IRA man Fergal O'Hanlon, who was killed in 1957 alongside Sean South, the deputy first minister said union-ists needed to reach out to republicans and stop "pandering to the extremes of Orangeism".

"It is time to begin discussing how shared hurts can be acknowledged, lessened and, if possible, healed," he said.

Mr McGuinness said the potential of recent gestures of reconciliation surrounding President Higgins's state visit to Britain would only be realised when all outstanding elements of the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements were implemented.

He accused elements within unionism of attempting to "roll back on the progress" that has been made since the 1998 accord.

"This cannot be allowed to happen," he said.

The Mid Ulster MLA, left, said it was possible to resolve "all of the outstanding and toxic issues" but that this would only happen when the Irish and British governments took a leadership role.

He said the London government had facilitated unionism's failure to endorse the proposals on flags, parades and the past put forward by Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan.

"The British government needs to show clear and unambiguous support for the Haass proposals," Mr McGuinness said.

"They will not come to this will-ingly -- it is our job to move them through increased and increasing political strength."

In Dublin, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams called for the establishment of a "revolutionary quarter" in the capital to celebrate the area at the centre of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Mr Adams said Sinn Fein was determined to ensure that the 1916 centenary was marked in the "most appropriate way possible".

"Let us send a very clear message to the government that it should ensure the full preservation of the national monument and to develop a plan to transform the GPO/Moore Street area into a historic quarter," the Louth TD said.

In Belfast, Sinn Fein MEP and euro election candidate Martina Anderson criticised the party's main partners in the executive.

Ms Anderson accused the DUP of being "messenger boys for the millionaires in David Cameron's cabinet" by seeking to implement aspects of the Tory-led coalition's welfare reform plans.

"Sinn Fein is not opposed to sensible welfare reforms -- we are opposed to the agenda, which seeks

to make the most vulnerable and ordinary working families pay for the greed and excesses of the bankers," she said.

However, Ms Anderson said Sinn Fein was "politically and ideologically opposed" to the politics of austerity.

"The DUP need to recognise that Republicans stand up for equality, human rights and social justice for all -- and that is a reality they need to get used to," she said.

Speaking at an Easter Rising commemoration in Newry, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly described the organisers of today's planned march in north Belfast, which will pass St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street, as "anti-peace and

reconciliation".

"The loyal orders have not stepped up to the mark in trying to move past conflict and into a new phase of reconciliation," he said.

"Unfortunately their intransigence is not just tolerated but encouraged by unionist politicians."

Mr Kelly also accused dissident republicans of "waging war on the nationalist community".

"To date the biggest percentage of any killings carried out by these dissidents have been in internal feuds," he said.

"This is not a struggle for Irish freedom. If they are at war it is with each other and the nationalist community.