SF and Protestant leaders in talks

Published Friday, 25 May 2012
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Martin McGuinness has revealed that Sinn Féin has been involved in private talks with a significant group of Protestant leaders on the subject of reconciliation.

SF and Protestant leaders in talks
Martin McGuiness was speaking at the 2012 Ard Fheis in Killarney. (© UTV)

The deputy First Minister confirmed, at the party's Ard Fheis in Killarney, that a process of "national reconciliation and reconstruction has commenced".

"It is my firm view that a foundation is being built slowly and steadily upon which we will as a community jointly move forward," he explained.

Mr McGuiness added that a "very significant group of people" that had been part of the talks, which he revealed had taken place over the past number of weeks, had told him they believe the initiative to be a "genuine invitation to engage in dialogue".

Those at the Ard Fheis were told that republicans must reach out to unionists in order to address the past.

Mr McGuiness called for further support "to deepen and expand my role to help lead the process of national reconciliation in Ireland".

In recent months senior party members under the direction of the party Chairperson Declan Kearney have been involved in initial discussions with a range of civic unionism and Protestant churches.

Martin McGuinness

During his Easter speech last month Declan Kearney said republicans and unionists should become "partners in reconciliation", adding that there must be "new conversations between republicans and the unionist and Protestant community".

On Friday, he reiterated that call.

"Unionist leaders have an important contribution to make. Conversations such as these, no matter how uncomfortable, are key to reconciliation. Visionary leadership is required from all parties," said Mr Kearney.

Party leader Gerry Adams also addressed the crowd at the Ard Fheis as it began on Friday. he intends to lead Sinn Féin into the next Irish general election, which is expected to be held in two years

In the 2011 election, 14 of the party's candidates were elected to the Dáil - a significant increase from the four seats won in the previous election.

Mr Adams will make a keynote address to party members on Saturday, when it is understood he will speak against the May 31 referendum on Europe's fiscal treaty, which the party claims could drive Ireland further into recession. Sinn Féin is urging its voters to oppose the treaty, despite fears that financial aid to Ireland may be cut if it is rejected.

It is expected that around 1,500 people will attend the annual conference which began on Friday in Co Kerry.

© UTV News
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11 Comments
henry in north belfast wrote (880 days ago):
@stevie, close the door on your way out
Madden in North Belfast wrote (881 days ago):
A United Ireland within the United Kingdom with it's own devolved Government; would that be good for all?
Realist in England wrote (881 days ago):
Phil - 40 years too late? Hmmm.. Isn't the average lifespan over there around 70 years? Either way, it's less than 90 and people need to be old enough to remember anything in the first place. Your comment show the backwards thinking of the past - 'you remember 1916? Hmmph - I remember 1690, beat that! Ok, I remember 1169, gutted!'. I'd say that it's much better to remember the Ireland of 2012 and figure out how we can best share it for the benefit of all its people. I think that others would be better fitted to the role, but what PSF are doing in this particular case is to be welcomed in my opinion. The so-called peace process was a farce. It only diluted the intensity of the 'war' and offered exactly what was said at the time - a 'ceasefire'. Actual genuine engagement between Unionism and Republicanism is much more useful than simply ceasing hostilities and sticking together a power-sharing deal with cheap sticky tape. Irrespective of what comes out of such engagement, it has got to be good for the people of Ireland as we all need a new start for our island.
Charlie in Belfast, wrote (881 days ago):
To all ex-IRA commanders and their supporters especially McGuinnes, Adams and the likes of wishey washey Ministers such as Harold Good, Ken Newell, David Latimer and others of their treacherous elk I say it's time for the lot of you to wake up and live in the real World, the only way that there will ever be a United Ireland is when the financially and politically bankrupt state of The Republic of Ireland is forced to rejoin the rest of us in the United Kingdom.
Marcus in Londonderry wrote (881 days ago):
Yet cos we all going to kiss and make up wish up never going to happen
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