Tory direct rule from Westminster would be disastrous for unionist and nationalist communities, Martin McGuinness warns

MARTIN McGUINNESS told a packed public meeting in Belfast this week that Sinn Féin will oppose Tory austerity and “will not desert the working-class people, nationalist and unionist, of the North”.

He warned that a return to direct rule would see “unfettered Tory rule and an unrestrained onslaught on public services and the most vulnerable in our society”.

The deputy First Minister was speaking at a packed public meeting in Belfast on Wednesday when he addressed the present political negotiations and outlined the party’s commitment to negotiate a way out of the present political impasse.

“Sinn Féin has signed up to and stood by the commitments we made in the Haass Talks and the Stormont House Agreement reached last Christmas and we are serious about reaching agreement in these present talks,” he told his audience.

“However,” he added, “the Stormont House Agreement was seriously undermined by billions in additional cuts announced by the British Government in the months afterwards.

“A key objective in the negotiations leading to the Stormont House Agreement was achieving a workable and sustainable budget in the context of the many challenges facing the Executive and Assembly. But the British Government effectively reneged on the Stormont House Agreement when they unleashed a new attack on the welfare system and the Executive’s budget just months later.”

On the panel with Martin McGuinness were West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, Junior Minister Jennifer McCann (who answered questions from the floor on legacy issues with some questioners criticising the British Government’s recent proposals on dealing with the past), and Carál Ní Chuilín (who fielded queries from Belfast Gaels on the delays in developing Casement Park).

West Belfast MLA Alex Maskey, Paul Maskey, Jennifer McCann and Martin McGuiness with lifelong republican Kitty McGettigan

West Belfast MLA Alex Maskey, Paul Maskey MP, Jennifer McCann MLA and Martin McGuinness MLA with lifelong republican Kitty McGettigan