Gary Donnelly refuses McGuinness handshake offer

Independant candidate Gary Donnelly voting in Derry yesterday. (0605PG64)

Independant candidate Gary Donnelly voting in Derry yesterday. (0605PG64)

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Dissident republican Gary Donnelly refused to shake hands with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness outside a Derry polling station yesterday.

Mr. Donnelly, who stood as an Independent Republican candidate in the Derry City Council election, last night defended his decision not to acknowledge the Deputy First Minister’s gesture.

As Mr. McGuinness walked past Mr. Donnelly outside the Model School polling station, neither acknowledged each other.

But, after Mr. McGuinness left the polling station, he walked towards Mr. Donnelly and offered to shake his hand.

Mr. Donnelly stood with his hands in his pockets and stared straight ahead.

“I did not shake hands with Martin McGuinness,” he confirmed.

“He approached me and offered his hand but I refused to shake his hand.

“I, personally, do not have a problem shaking anyone’s hand if they are sincere and genuine but I, personally, have no trust in Martin McGuinness because he has launched a number of personal attacks on me and on the republican community and I have a problem shaking hands with someone who, basically, I just do not trust.”

Meanwhile, Mr. McGuinness described Mr. Donnelly as someone who was prepared to destroy the peace process.

“Yes, he refused to shake my hand but that is a matter for himself and for those he supports,” said the Sinn Fein MP.

“They have refused to come into the room and discuss with people like myself and Gerry Adams and, indeed, with Fr. Michael Canny the folly of their actions.

“Some people still live in the past. I do not want to forget the past but I am living for the here and now and for the future of our children and grandchildren.”