Martin McGuinness’ “Trojan efforts” to bring about reconciliation have been praised as Sinn Fein confirmed they will not be nominating anyone else to replace him as deputy First Minister.
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said that Mr McGuinness had taken great “personal and political risks” over the years despite, she claimed, having to contend with a “lack of respect” and a failure from the DUP to reciprocate his efforts.
Ms. O’Neill was speaking as parties across the north prepare themselves for a fresh Assembly election.
Speaking in the Assembly today, she asserted that there can be no return to the status quo.
“If something is broken, you stop and you fix it. That is the Sinn Fein approach, She said.
“Today Sinn Féin will not re-nominate for the position of deputy First Minister.
“Sinn Féin has honoured all agreements, we have striven to make these institutions work.
“Martin McGuinness has acted at all times with integrity, dignity and respect. He has taken personal and political risks to build a process of reconciliation.
“If we are to return to this chamber then there must be real change. There must be respect and equality for all sections of our people.
“These institutions must operate to the highest standards, with no place for arrogance, or malpractice.”
Ms O’Neill said she also wanted to pay tribute to pay tribute to Martin McGuinness.
“For over ten years, as deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness has worked tirelessly to make these institutions deliver for all our people, unionist, national and everyone else in our society.
“He took a leadership role to promote equality, respect, and reconciliation. His record, his commitment and the limitless energy he has brought to this process is beyond question.
“During that time, he has faced threats, a lack of respect and a failure by the DUP to reciprocate his Trojan efforts.
“He persevered, because it was the right thing to do.”
Ms O’Neill claimed that the DUP had treated the institutions and sections of the community “with contempt and arrogance”.
“They have displayed disrespect towards women, the LGB&T community, ethnic communities and the Irish language and identity. That has diminished the institutions,” she alleged, adding:
“The RHI scandal was created by the former First Minister when she was in the Economy Department. Her refusal to step aside shows a total disregard for the concerns and outrage of the public.
“Martin McGuinness resigned as deputy First Minister. That was the right thing to do. We will not tolerate the arrogance and disrespect of the DUP. Sinn Féin will not tolerate financial scandal, incompetence, or waste of public money.
“The Institutions can only function with the support of the people and can only operate on the basis of equality and respect.”