Protests are a ‘huge mistake’ - McGuinness

Pacemaker Press 14/12/10 First Minister Peter Robinson,deputy first minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont castle last night after they agreed a draft budget on cuts, after intensive discussions over the course of the last three to four months Chancellor George Osbourne ordered Stormont to cut spending by �4bn over the next four years as part of the Spending Review Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 14/12/10 First Minister Peter Robinson,deputy first minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont castle last night after they agreed a draft budget on cuts, after intensive discussions over the course of the last three to four months Chancellor George Osbourne ordered Stormont to cut spending by �4bn over the next four years as part of the Spending Review Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said he is “confident” when it comes to his personal security and described protests at the visit of the Royal family to Ireland as “a huge mistake.”

The politician was responding to media questions about his personal security and possible attacks by dissident republicans: “I feel quite confident, though I could be proven wrong that these people understand there is nothing to be gained and everything to be lost by going down that route.

“They quite clearly lack support in the community,” he said of the dissident groups.

“They are miniscule but dangerous groups.”

The Deputy First Minister also confirmed both British and Irish Governments have opened contacts with dissident leaders.

The Sinn Fein deputy leader said he approved of efforts by community leaders to engage with them, adding, somewhat challengingly:

“We in Sinn Fein have offered to meet them but they have not, so far, had the confidence to meet with us.”

And commenting on protests against the British Queen’s forthcoming visit to Dublin he said: “I believe people should respect the fact that Irish President Mary McAleese has invited the Queen to Dublin as part of her policy of reconciliation.”

Dissident republicans are expected to protest during the planned royal visit to the Irish Republic later this year.

Mr. McGuinness said: “We are all on a journey and the journey we are on means there are different situations we are going to have to deal with, Peter (Robinson) has identified the issue of Mass.”

First Minister Peter Robinson recently stated for the first time, that he would, in certain circumstances be prepared to attend a Catholic Mass.

Mr. McGuinness added: “While people have the right to protest, I think protest would be a mistake. Particularly protests that could turn violent. It would be a huge mistake.

“These are tricky situations to deal with. Consider my own city for example.

“In the aftermath of the murder of 14 people on Bloody Sunday, The Parachute Regiment was rushed up to Buckingham Palace and decorated by the Queen.

“If people think that doesn’t present a problem for me, quite apart from our view that Ireland should be free and united, then they are mistaken.”