This is a time for leadership – not political point-scoring

Posted By: September 04, 2015

“This is a time for leadership and I am prepared to give that leadership. I expect the same commitment from Peter Robinson, Mike Nesbitt, Alasdair McDonnell and David Ford, and from An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the British prime minister

Martin Mc Guinness. Irish News ( Belfast). Friday, September 4, 2015
RECENT events in Belfast are first and foremost a personal tragedy for the families of ‘Jock’ Davison and Kevin McGuigan.

In the immediate aftermath of both of these appalling murders carried out by criminals, I and my party colleagues made our condemnation of these actions clear and publicly called for every effort to be made to bring those responsible to justice.

And in my view the people who killed Kevin McGuigan are dissidents as their attack on him was also an attack on the peace and political 


This was not the first time I have challenged criminality and threats to the peace and political processes and I take very strong exception to anyone calling into question my commitment to peace.

My record is there for all to see in my words and actions following the murder of two British soldiers in Antrim, the murders of Constables Stephen Carroll and Ronan Kerr, the murder of Prison Officer David Black and many other actions by dissident groups.

I have stood with Chief Constables and the leader of the DUP condemning the actions of those who would try to drag us back to the past.

In facing down these elements I have encountered threats against my life and attacks on my family home.

I did not bow the knee to those behind those threats and attacks then and I do not intend to start now.

We have also seen violent actions from sections of the loyalist community and I have made countless attempts to get joint statements from the five party leaders in the Executive condemning those actions.

Not once could I get a unionist leader to stand with me, yet some of those same unionists have questioned my commitment to peace and that of my fellow Sinn Féin ministers.

I also take exception to those party political interests north and south who have attempted to fuel this crisis for selfish electoral advantage.

What is happening between the DUP and the Ulster Unionists is really about the election. It is about the UUP trying to gain advantage over the DUP by attempting to bring about a situation where the DUP walk out and abandon the political institutions.

If that happened it would represent a massive failure of leadership.

The recent posturing by political unionism has nothing to do with concern for the families involved, or to aid the efforts to bring those responsible to justice; instead it is the latest act in the increasingly shambolic fall-out between the parties.

The actions of Mike Nesbitt in particular have been nothing short of shameful. He has seized upon these tragedies for naked political advantage. He has played fast and loose with the peace process and left 

it hanging at the mercy of violent extremists.

That is not leadership.

The fact of the matter is that there are some within political unionism who have never been comfortable with sharing power with republicans and nationalists.

Sinn Féin entered into power sharing because we wanted to; unionists because they had to. And some, led by the rejectionists within the UUP and their fellow travellers from the TUV and Ukip, now think they have found a way to get back to majority rule.

But they will not succeed. Far from protecting the democratic process, what Mike Nesbitt and Nigel Dodds have proposed in seeking to exclude Sinn Féin would not only disenfranchise nationalists and republicans but also the large section of the Unionist population who want the political institutions up and running and working on their behalf.

Both Unionist parties need to understand that the institutions without Sinn Féin are meaningless.

I made that point clear to British prime minister David Cameron when we spoke yesterday and told him that any suggestion of suspending the political institutions is not an option.

Sinn Féin will robustly resist any attempt to undermine the political institutions – and the mandate given to us by a whole section of our community.

We will continue to stand on that mandate to seek justice for the Davison and McGuigan families.

This is a time for leadership and I am prepared to give that leadership. I expect the same commitment from Peter Robinson, Mike Nesbitt, Alasdair McDonnell and David Ford, and from An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the British prime minister.