McGuinness critical of unionist leaders

Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness said unionists needed to be more engaged in the peace process

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said unionists need to be more engaged in the peace process.

He was speaking at the Sinn Fein ard fheis in Castlebar in County Mayo.

Mr McGuinness said there was a "marked reluctance by unionist leaders to respect the Irish identity of nationalists".

He also criticised Prime Minister David Cameron for a "semi-detached approach" to the peace process.

"More than once in recent months the observation has been made to me that Sinn Fein ministers are in government with unionist ministers because we want to be, but that unionist ministers are in government with Sinn Fein because they have to be," Mr McGuinness said.

"Speaking frankly this isn't good enough. Fifteen years on we need to apply the very same political skills and political principles to politics in the here and now if we are to truly harness the great potential that still exists.

"I have no difficulty whatsoever in respecting unionists' allegiance to their Britishness, but it gives me no satisfaction to tell you that there is a marked reluctance by unionist leaders to respect the Irish identity of nationalists and republicans."

Mr McGuinness said that infighting in the Stormont executive had the potential to do more damage to the peace process than dissident republicans.

He added that it was "an understatement" to say he was "unimpressed" when he recently met Mr Cameron in Downing Street.

"It is unfortunate that his semi-detached approach to the peace process and delivering the outstanding commitments from Good Friday, St Andrews and Hillsborough has been in many ways mirrored by the current Irish government also," he said.

More Northern Ireland stories


Features & Analysis

  • A resin model of a sculpture illustrating the WW1 Christmas Truce football matchChristmas truce

    How France has forgotten the WW1 enemies who shook hands

  • Woman thinkingWho? What? Why?

    The questions of 2014, answered succinctly

  • Banda Aceh in 2004 and 2014Then and now

    Images of transformation 10 years on from the Indian Ocean tsunami

  • JACK O'Connell Big break

    Why Jack O'Connell is the talk of Hollywood

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • HolidayHaute holiday

    When you’re wealthy, money is no object. BBC Capital discovers six places the rich like to escape to


  • (File photo) A mother polar bear and two cubssThe Travel Show Watch

    From polar bear watching to crocodile conservation - highlights from 2014

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.