Sinn Féin ‘means business’, says McGuinness

The British and Irish governments must not allow the Ian Paisley to block the path to power-sharing in the North, Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said tonight.

The British and Irish governments must not allow the Ian Paisley to block the path to power-sharing in the North, Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said tonight.

He told hundreds of delegates at tonight’s Árd Fheis in Dublin the peace process had transformed the island of Ireland and needed to be carried through to its conclusion.

“I want to send out a clear message that Sinn Féin means business,” he said.

“We are up for the challenges ahead. Dublin and London need to show that they can meet those same challenges.”

Introducing motions on the peace process, the Mid-Ulster said Sinn Féin was serious about engaging with unionism and that the DUP had to face up to this reality.

“They have a huge decision to make,” he continued. “I hope that they make the right decision. If (Mr Paisley) makes the wrong decision there is a huge responsibility on Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair to make it clear that the DUP are not going to be allowed to prevent progress.

“If that means stopping the Assembly salaries so be it. If that means abolishing the Assembly so be it. We want to see Ian Paisley sharing power.”

Earlier, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin O Caolain described Justice Minister Michael McDowell as a “bombast bore” and said he should take his rightful place in the House of Lords as “Lord McDowell of West Britain”.

Motions passed by delegates on the Good Friday Agreement later suggested support for the 1998 accord is slipping.

One carried motion called for a special conference to debate the viability of the Agreement “as a vehicle to advance the struggle for a 32 county democratic socialist republic”.

Another declared the accord was not based on the republican principle that the people of Ireland have the right to self determination, national sovereignty and independence.

Elsewhere in the Árd Fheis programme, delegates called for a specific policy on flags and emblems so that they are used to promote mutual respect rather than division.

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