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3 April 2017 Edition

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Build a new Ireland in tribute to Martin McGuinness

Editorial – Eagarfhocal

THE PAST FEW WEEKS have been dramatic and traumatic for the republican family. Politics across Ireland has changed. And we have lost an inspirational leader in Martin McGuinness.

First we had the collapse of the Executive government due to the arrogance and disrespect of unionists in power in Stormont and the British Government. 

The consequent Assembly election saw – for the first time in history – the end of a perpetual unionist majority in the North. It was a political earthquake that has shaken unionism to its core and must fundamentally change the approach of the British and Irish governments. There is a need to plan for change and Irish unity.

This occurred under the shadow of the Tory Party triggering Article 50 and imposing Brexit against the will of the people of Ireland, North and South. 

At this time of great change, challenge and opportunity we lost one of our finest leaders – Martin McGuinness. 

Martin was a passionate republican and, like his friend Nelson Mandela, he was a freedom fighter, a political leader, a statesman and a peacemaker. And, more importantly, he was a father, husband, brother and grandfather to the family he loved.

Like Nelson Mandela, Martin took unprecedented risks for peace. He reached out to unionists while holding dear to his belief that a reunited Ireland holds the best potential for everyone on this small island, whatever their tradition. He didn’t just talk the talk – Martin McGuinness walked the walk.

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The tributes paid to Martin bear testimony to the difference that he has made, the hope he has inspired, and the example he has set for all of us, of all persuasions and none.

The talks at Stormont broke down due to the failure of the British Government to honour the agreements and the DUP failing to recognise equality and rights for all.

The British Government – in the shape of the Conservative & Unionist Party, to give the party of Prime Minister Theresa May and Secretary of State James Brokenshire its full title – has been an active protagonist throughout the most recent period of conflict in Ireland. The outspoken opposition of the British Prime Minister and the Secretary of State to investigations by their own judiciary of killings by British state forces during the conflict proves their partisanship to anyone in any doubt. Their approach to the past is not about healing - it is about cover-up. 

The British Government is not an independent broker. It is part of the problem.

The Good Friday Agreement was endorsed by the vast majority of people across Ireland. It is the People’s Agreement 

The Irish Government is an equal co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements. The British Government must honour its commitments. 

The Irish Government and the international community, including the EU, should not stand idly by.

There can be no conditionality on equality and good governance.

Unionism is at a crossroads. Does unionism embrace rights and equality for all citizens and the need to implement agreements in a spirit of goodwill and co-operation?

Martin McGuinness was selfless in his pursuit of freedom and unity, equality and respect, reconciliation and healing. That is why he resigned from the role of deputy First Minister and made clear there could be no return to the status quo. 

Martin is gone and it is now up to those left behind to follow his example and finish the work at hand. 

Ours hearts are broken at the loss of Martin, but let us not mourn - let us celebrate and let us organise. 

Let us build a new, united, equal Ireland as a fitting tribute to Martin McGuinness.

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