Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, speaking at the Ard Fheis this morning has told delegates
“It’s good to be back home in Derry!”
The Deputy First Minister said that in many ways Derry is symbolic of how far we have come as a result of the peace process.
He told a packed Millennium Forum “This was once a strife torn city. Divided by a river and divided by our differing allegiances. In 1969 the smouldering resentment against decades of discrimination and repression burst into open revolt and resistance in this city. Today, Derry is a very different place.
“The British Army fortresses, which once dominated the skyline are gone. Last week, with our Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill, I watched as bulldozers demolished a former British Army base in Ballykelly to make way for her departmental headquarters. That type of renewal and regeneration is happening across the north. The parades disputes, which once caused so much division and destruction, have been resolved through dialogue and mutual respect. The Peace Bridge has provided an iconic link across the river and across community divides.”
He went on to say that the developing the process of reconciliation must become the next stage in the peace process here.
“The presence of the Londonderry Bands Forum representing the loyalist and unionist community engaging with Sinn Féin at this Ard Fheis is evidence of our changing society on this island. I want to commend them for their courage and confidence. I’d like also to welcome my friend the Reverend David Latimer and the Reverend Steve Stockman and Fatherr Martin Magill.
“Last night the Rev. Dr Harold Good was here and I want to express my personal thanks to him for the central role he played along side Fr Alex Reid, in moving our society forward and away from conflict. We owe them both a great dept of gratitude.
“This – and this society – is looking to the world with confidence and a commitment to reconciliation and a better future for our young people.”