Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has told young people in Derry that he is prepared to put his own life on the line for the sake of the peace process.
Speaking to A-Level students at the Verbal School of Journalism, the Sinn Fein leader said that threats on his life and a recent attack on his family home, would not deter him from his role in politics.
Asked by one of the Verbal Young Journalists if he felt discouraged from having such a prominent role in political life after his own home was targeted for attack on the eve of the Westminster elections earlier this month, Mr McGuinness said: “I am never discouraged about my work.”
Commenting on the recent attacks at his home and on the property of several other Sinn Fein elected representatives in the city, the Deputy First Minister admitted that it was “very possible” he could lose his life in such a situation, “but that is a risk I am willing to take”.
He added: “I have no fear, absolutely no fear of anything or anybody. My work will continue for the people of Ireland and, when I say the people of Ireland, I include the unionist people.” They too had voted in the Good Friday Referendum in 1998 that they wanted peace, he said.
Mr McGuinness told the student journalists that he believed the biggest achievement of his career “is peace” and “bringing the conflict to an end”.
Referring to his former role as a senior IRA member, he stated: “But I didn’t start the Troubles. The conflict began long before I was born”.
During this morning’s press conference, Mr McGuinness spoke about a range of issues including tackling sectarianism, racism and homophobia; the need to improve the local economy through a range of measures including expansion of the university at Magee; and the need for greater representation of women in local politics, saying that 50 per cent of the Sinn Fein candidates in the next election would be female as the party took this issue “very seriously” and selected female candidates in the belief they could win the seats and not as an act of “tokenism”.