Sunday 23 July 2017

Shakespearean tragedy ends with an election that nobody in the North wants

Martin McGuinness with Gerry Adams leaving No.10 Downing Street in 1999 Picture: PA/Peter Jordan
Martin McGuinness with Gerry Adams leaving No.10 Downing Street in 1999 Picture: PA/Peter Jordan

Tom Kelly

There's a familiarity to politics in Northern Ireland and it's called 'crisis'.

Listening to outgoing Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness defiantly - and with some vulnerability - announce his resignation from office, I recalled the resignation of another deputy first minister, Seamus Mallon, in July 1999.

In his opening remarks, Mallon reminded the Assembly of the pledges he affirmed when taking office "to work in good faith to bring into being the arrangements set out in the Good Friday Agreement and his commitment to observe the spirit of his pledge of office". Mallon felt that both Sinn Féin and the then Ulster Unionist party were ripping the heart out of the Good Friday Agreement over decommissioning. He felt that efforts to resolve the then impasse were not only being spurned but 'scorned' by some in unionism.

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