29/06/2012

Britain 'Hampering' Attempts For Peace - McGuinness

Britain is hampering reconciliation in Ireland by refusing to acknowledge its role in the conflict here, Martin McGuinness said in London last night.

Fresh from his much-feted handshake with Queen Elizabeth II, the Deputy First Minister addressed an audience at Portcullis House in Westminster’s Houses of Parliament.

He said the handshake was a vital step for reconciliation with unionists who had a "deep affinity' to her, but the British government was blocking attempts to move on through a refusal to deal with the past.

Mr McGuinness, of Sinn Fein, said the current government had made "a series of very wrong and unhelpful decisions" and Prime Minister David Cameron had not involved himself in peacemaking.

He said: "Unfortunately, to date, the British State has refused to even acknowledge its role as a combatant in the conflict. That position is no longer tenable as we move forward. It is insulting to victims of events like Bloody Sunday in my own city when 14 people were killed and it is insulting to people’s intelligence. It is also excluding the British state from assisting a genuine process of national reconciliation in Ireland. A process which, though embryonic, is nevertheless under way. There are issues that have not been brought to a conclusion, specifically the issue of the legacy of the conflict. The British Government has a big role to play in that."

The former IRA commander said he and First Minister Peter Robinson had met Barack Obama more times than they had met David Cameron.

(NE)

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