Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
Have your say

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said the actions of dissident republicans have pitted them against the people of Derry.

His comments come following recent threats against his life, an attack on his home, and a verbal attack on his wife, Bernie.

He also revealed that he has met with some of those involved in dissident republicanism but said the meeting came to nothing and repeated his call for further talks.

Mr McGuinness called on the leadership of the armed groups to reflect on their position and acknowledge they lack public support. He also said there was no alternative to political engagement and dialogue.

The Mid Ulster MLA described the recent attacks on his wife and home as “cowardly” and said those responsible had “stooped to a new low” when they attacked his family.

“The most disappointing thing was that people chose to arrive at my house when I was not there and verbally assault Bernie. Whatever about my support for the peace process and my involvement in Sinn Féin or the job I do as deputy First Minister, I am not going to be threatened or intimidated, but people cross a line when they start attacking families and I think that the vast majority of the people of Derry would find that behaviour totally unacceptable,” he said.

The senior republican also questioned the motivation of those involved in armed groups. “What we have seen over the course of recent times in the city is an escalation of tensions involving people opposed to the peace process who, in fact by their actions appear to be more anti-Sinn Féin than they are anti-British government,” he said.

Mr McGuinness said one of the achievements of the political strategy advanced by Sinn Féin is to prove that a united Ireland can be achieved by political and democratic methods. “A minority disagree with that. But they have no right to pursue a campaign aimed at damaging the peace process, holding back Irish unity, and then refuse to explain their actions.”

Mr McGuinness said the activities of dissidents had caused nothing but misery for the people of Derry and called on the leaders of armed groups to recognise that. “Those people who regard themselves as being in the leadership of these tiny minorities need to reflect on where they are going and whether or not, against the backdrop of change, there is any wisdom in trying to manipulate young people into confrontations, or a life of misery because of activities that are quite clearly against the wishes of the people of Derry,” he said.