Refusal to accept second class citizenship is not a red line – Kearney

Writing in his latest blog, Sinn Féin Chairperson Declan Kearney has reiterated the words of Martin McGuinness that there will be “no return to the status quo”.

Reflecting on Martin’s decision to resign as Joint First Minister following the DUP leaders’ refusal to stand aside to allow the RHI scandal to be properly investigated, Mr Kearney has said:

“He was absolutely resolute about the need to resign.The political situation had become unsustainable. It was untenable for Martin and other Sinn Féin ministers to remain in the Executive with the DUP given the cumulative build-up of financial scandals; that party’s institutionalised bigotry and bad faith; and, the hallmark disrespect and sneering contempt shown by DUP members towards northern nationalists, the LGB&T community, ethnic minorities and women, which had come to define the political institutions.

“Martin was insistent, against the advice of others for health reasons, that he should travel to Belfast the next day to meet and personally inform Arlene Foster, before making himself available to do media.

“He wanted to tell the DUP leader himself because he believed that was the right thing to do. He was very clear about that even though similar courtesy and respect had rarely been afforded him by so many in the DUP.

“Martin travelled to Belfast on Monday 9th January. Afterwards he said privately that the journey from Derry to Belfast and home that day felt like climbing Everest, such was the physical toll it had on him.

“That particular day has now forever immortalised the phrase that ‘there would be no return to the status quo,’ which Martin used in his press conference.

“Those words have come to symbolise the deep-rooted nature of the unfolding political crisis at the heart of the institutions.

“Martin McGuinness’ resignation was not a stunt. Sinn Féin’s commitment not to return to the status quo is not superficial or expedient.

“When the Sinn Féin leadership repeats there will be no return to the status quo we mean every word of that. Our position carries the same meaning and determination one year on from when Martin immortalised the phrase.

“The denial of rights; disrespect for the Irish cultural tradition and republican and nationalist political identity; abuse of the political institutions; rejection of proper power sharing based upon a commitment to anti-sectarianism; and, refusal to implement past agreements, most notably on legacy; is all directly in conflict with sustainable institutions.

“The DUP leadership knows exactly what must be done.

“It knows that talk of red lines and humiliation is a smoke screen, and entirely bound up with the internal dynamics of that party.

“The reality is the DUP is not a monolith. There are decent pragmatic people in that party.  They know, as does the DUP leadership, that an Irish language act, marriage equality, a bill of rights, dealing with the past, and anti-sectarianism measures pose no threat to anyone in this society.

“When these issues are properly resolved the political institutions can be re-established.

“If there is to be a political breakthrough in 2018, both the DUP and British government must agree to full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, and the formation of a rights-based power sharing Executive which is avowedly anti-sectarian.

“It is not a red line to state that the days of second class citizenship in the north are over.”