Sunday 28 May 2017

Let voters judge me, says 'peacemaker'

Steven McCaffery and David Young

Martin McGuinness yesterday said voters in the presidential election will judge him on his role in the peace process and not on his IRA past.

As the Sinn Fein veteran formally informed the Stormont Assembly of his decision to temporarily step down as the North's deputy first minister to bid for the presidency, he said he would not be sidetracked by what he described as a "media fixation" with his time as a paramilitary commander.

Mr McGuinness said voters had no such preoccupation and claimed he had already received support for his candidacy from victims of IRA violence and individuals within the wider unionist/Protestant community.

Mr McGuinness, who faces continued questions over his former IRA activities, said: "The reality is that people know my past.

"I have put myself before the electorate on countless occasions since 1982, and particularly since 1997 when I was first elected as MP for Mid Ulster.

"In election after election people have come out in their droves to vote for me knowing that I am absolutely dedicated and committed to a new way forward and I live in the here and now . . .

"I have answered all these questions in the past, I have no concerns whatsoever about going into this election campaign, I stand on my record."

Mr McGuinness confirmed that Sinn Fein Education Minister at Stormont John O'Dowd would take on his role as deputy first minister from midnight until next month's election.

Mr McGuinness said he would not be drawn into answering queries on specific IRA incidents as he claimed the media would ask such questions from "now to kingdom come".

Mr McGuinness said people across the political divide saw him as a "peacemaker" and he said he would now place his record before voters in the presidential election for them to make their judgment.

Irish Independent

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