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Martin McGuinness speaking in Parliament Photo by: BBC

Martin McGuinness slams Unionist pols over attack on Belfast mayor

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Martin McGuinness speaking in Parliament Photo by: BBC

Martin McGuinness has slammed Unionist politicians over their failure to condemn attacks on Northern Ireland police officers in recent weeks.

The Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister is angry at the failure of his Unionist counterparts to condemn disturbances surrounding the annual 12th of July celebrations.

Trouble has continued to flare in parts of Belfast during the traditional marching season and McGuinness has hit out at the failure of loyalist politicians to comment.

Speaking at a Leitrim commemoration for former IRA leader Joe McGirl, McGuinness highlighted the lack of response to attacks on 56 officers and an attack on Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleor by a loyalist mob.

He said: “The failure of Unionists to condemn attacks on 56 police officers and the Mayor of Belfast has implications not just for law and order, but for the peace process itself.

“I have never been selective in condemning and challenging violent attacks on the peace process from whatever quarter.

“Political unionism needs to realise that nothing can be gained by continually feeding the insatiable appetite of those who see life through a red, white and blue prism”.

Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, McGuinness also condemned the DUP’s withdrawal of support for the construction of a peace centre at the former Maze Centre according to a report in the Irish Times.

He said:  “The decision is a mistake and not only because it jeopardises much needed investment and jobs, but also for the message it sends to the vast majority of people – nationalist and unionist – who support the peace process.

“Some in the extremes of political unionism believe that they can unpick the Good Friday Agreement. Moves like this give them succour.

“The reality is that the vast majority of unionists want to see the peace process succeed. They are embarrassed by the antics of the thugs who attacked the police in recent weeks in Belfast while wrapped in the Union flag.”

US diplomat Richard Haass is due in Northern Ireland next month to chair all-party talks and McGuinness warned: “The Haass talks are not about replacing the Parades Commission to satisfy the demands of the Orange Order.”

He continued: “Sinn Fein will approach the talks with the objective of advancing the peace process and further underpinning the political institutions.

“I am entirely comfortable with unionists seeking to express a British identity in a sensible and non-confrontational fashion.

“Likewise I expect them to acknowledge and recognise my Irishness in the same spirit. I do not believe that is too much to ask or expect.

“The Haass talks can succeed if everyone approaches them in this spirit.”

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