Irish society must learn to move beyond the politics of recrimination if the potential of peace is to be fully realised, Martin McGuinness has said.
The North’s Deputy First Minister was speaking at the Kinsale Peace Project at the weekend where he insisted that political maturity is needed across the island if our people are to be truly reconciled.
“The Irish peace process is rightly held up as a beacon of hope for conflict situations across the globe and I am very proud of the role that my party has played in the success of that peace process.
“Politics on this island and between Ireland and Britain have been transformed. We are in a far better place now than at any time in our painful history.
“However, we are still on a journey and I have long argued that the next phase of the peace process needs to be the reconciliation phase. That requires leadership and political maturity from all parties, right across the island.
“There needs to be an end to the politics of recrimination because that leads us nowhere. I have been in government with the DUP for eight years now, serving with Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and now Arlene Foster as First Minister.
“There was a time when the prospect of Sinn Féin and the DUP in government together was unthinkable but we have achieved that. We have shared power for almost nine years and the institutions have remained in place. The sky didn’t fall in.
“And during all that time there hasn’t been one word of recrimination about the past between myself, Ian, Peter or Arlene. That is because we know that, in order to realise the potential of peace, in order to govern for the mutual benefit of our people, we must look to the future.
“Of course we can never forget the past but neither can we become prisoners to it. We have all suffered in the conflict and if we allow ourselves to get dragged into constant recrimination about the past, the only people that serves is those who would wish to drag us back there.
“I think all of us on the island need to learn that lesson. It’s ironic that much of the political and media recrimination today originates in this part of the island. It saddens me to say that and I often wonder what happened to the political maturity shown by people like Albert Reynolds and Bertie Ahern who put peace before party politics.
“There needs to be a return to that kind of mature and responsible leadership. The prize of peace and a reconciled people on this island is far more important than the petty party politiciking that has become the primary feature of politics in this state over recent times.”