Deputy sings out praises for leader Paisley
SINN Fein's Martin McGuinness yesterday lauded Dr Ian Paisley's contribution to the executive since it was established three months ago.
On only his second visit south as Deputy First Minister of the Northern Ireland Executive, Mr McGuinness said in Scariff, Co Clare: "Ian Paisley knows what I am and I know what he is. I intensely disliked Ian Paisley for all of my adult life and I wouldn't even hazard a guess at what he thought of me, but for the last three months, I have met him in Stormount every day, and there has not been one cross word between the two of us."
He added: "People ask 'is this for real? Is this going to last?' The answer is a really decisive 'yes' to both questions.
"I believe Ian Paisley is as committed and dedicated to making this process work as I am and as the Taoiseach is. That is where we are at. We are doing it now in a totally different environment. The war is well and truly over; the next big challenge is the economy, providing well-paid jobs for our young people.
"Ian Paisley's allegiance is to Britain and the UK. I have no allegiance to Britain or the UK.
"My allegiance is to Ireland and to the people of Ireland, but both he and I inhabit a space where he and I work together."
Mr McGuinness was speaking before officially opening the 5th annual Scariff Harbour Festival, which has as one of its primary aims the promotion of greater links between the North and South.
Mr McGuinness told the crowd of 300 people in the east Clare village: "This is a small island and we all have a duty and a responsibility to come closer together and it is in our best interests to do so.
"It is in our best social, political and economic interests to do that."
Mr McGuinness remarked that during the joint press conferences the two have held: "I have found Ian Paisley to be very, very gracious indeed and I think he clearly recognises the journey that we in Sinn Fein and many others, including the Taoiseach and other political leaders, have made and I think he has joined in the mood and he wants to participate in a positive way".
He added: "I think Ian Paisley knows as a serious politician, this is a very small island and there are huge benefits for all of us if we work together."