Derry has been transformed from an “occupied city” into a ‘city of peace’ .
This is the view of Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness who says his birthplace is “unrecognisable” from what it was two decades ago.
“We are an example for others to follow,” he said. “Imagine where we will be in another 20 years... You only have to look around this city to see how things have changed for the better.”
Mr. McGuinness was speaking at a party conference in Derry at the weekend during which he confirmed he will be seeking election as an MLA for Foyle.
The deputy First Minister said he was standing in his home constituency because he believed Sinn Féin could emerge in the future as the largest political party in the North.
He also pointed to Sinn Fein’s ongoing growth across Ireland which, he said, underlined “dramatic change” in the political landscape of the country.
“I believe I can help to build on the fantastic work that Maeve McLaughlin and Raymond McCartney have already been doing [in Foyle]”, he added.
“Raymond and Maeve are a superb team and I want to augment the work they are doing as part of a stronger, increased Sinn Féin team to consolidate the delivery of key projects for the North West, including the expansion of Magee, creating employment in Derry and delivering the upgrades of the A5 and A6.
“We want to build on the massive investment, which we have already delivered to this city, including the radio therapy unit and new wing at Altnagelvin, the Peace Bridge and Ebrington.
“I am proud to say I was the Education Minister that built the new St Mary’s and St Cecilia’s schools.”
Mr McGuiness acknowledged that more work remained to be done and “I want to see that work through”.
“I want to see this city and region thriving and making the most of the massive potential that we have here.
“The best way to achieve that is a stronger Sinn Féin Assembly team in Foyle.
“Team Sinn Féin is better for Derry and... I firmly believe that I can help us take three seats in this constituency.”
Mr. McGuinness said his decision to stand in Foyle wasn’t an easy one for him to take.
“I have served as an MLA and MP in Mid-Ulster for 19 years and it has been my great honour and privilege to do so. I have a very deep affection for the people of South Derry and East Tyrone.
“I leave Mid-Ulster with a heavy heart but also safe in the knowledge that Sinn Féin has never been stronger there.”
“I am privileged to have played a part in that growth and the benefits that such strong Sinn Fein leadership has brought to the constituency.
“But Derry is home. And I want to be part of similar growth here.
“We are already well on the way and... I greatly look forward to being a part of that.”
The deputy First Minister said Sinn Fein could “make history” in the coming elections and take “huge strides forward towards our goal of a new Ireland.”
“How fitting that would be in the year when Irish people across the globe remember the sacrifice and heroism of 1916.
“We are the people – the only people – who can turn the vision of 1916 into a reality.
“Let’s go out and do it,” he concluded.