Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister has said the victory of the ‘No’ campaign in Scotland’s Independence Referendum marked only the beginning of a discussion on the future of the United Kingdom.
Speaking in Derry this morning, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness said: “This does not signal the end of the debate - but rather the beginning of a wider discussion.”
Mr McGuinness described the level of engagement of the Scottish electorate as a “tremendous achievement” adding: “To see 45% of people vote yes, after being subjected to a fear campaign, has ensured that things will never be the same again in Scotland and elsewhere.”
He said it was clear that British Prime Minister David Cameron was aware that enormous change is now needed adding: “If Scotland are now going to look into constitutional change and more devolved powers then we here have to be very much in that mix as well.
“I think it is important now that we speak to our colleagues not only in Scotland but also in Wales. The only way forward now is with a united voice which has at its heart the best interests of all our people.”
In terms of the challenges ahead for the Stormont assembly, Mr McGuinness said the finger of blame had to be pointed squarely at David Cameron and the Conservative Government.
“Since this government has come into power, we have seen a gutting of our block grant for the last four years and there will be further pain ahead through 2015-16 and as far ahead as 2020.”
He said that while there existed problems within the DUP which had led to a stalemate on issues relating to the past, flags and parades, both himself and First Minister Peter Robinson were united in wanting to tackle the budget crisis facing the Northern Ireland Assembly.