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This is the Republic, not Northern Ireland

'This is the Republic of Ireland 2011 -- not Northern Ireland." The Taoiseach will forgive me if, by way of introduction, I adapt this line from his celebrated speech on church-state relations because it sums up the reasons why Martin McGuinness is unfit to be President.

But let me first acknowledge his achievements as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. His political skills -- tact, patience, shrewdness, good judgment, and good humour -- in establishing a successful relationship first with Ian Paisley and then with Peter Robinson have ensured the smooth working of the Executive. The most striking feature of the annual meeting of the British-Irish Association in Cambridge only a fortnight ago was the unanimity of the conviction that there was no perceptible threat to the stability of the settlement. Although that was before McGuinness threw his hat into the ring, the relative calm of the reaction in Northern Ireland endorses that conviction.


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