Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, addressing his party’s Ard Fheis in Derry last night, said he believes his party can be the biggest party on the Island of Ireland.
The Deputy First Minister also defended the Stormont House agreement saying that Sinn Fein had taken decisions when when “no-one, and I mean no-one else, was prepared to show leadership.”
The fact is, we have protected the vulnerable and the sick, we have protected health and we have defended the education of our children in the face of a massive attack by the British conservative-led government.Martin McGuinness
Speaking in front of hundreds of delegates and members of the media at the Ard Fheis which is taking place in the city this weekend, Mr Mc. Guinness said the symbolism of becoming the biggest party in the Dail and the biggest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly would be “massive” during the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising.
“Over the coming period, the people of Ireland will have the opportunity to endorse that vision in elections North and South,” he said.
Responding to critics of welfare reform here, he said that both in government and opposition, Sinn Fein had defended austerity.
He said “Let our opponents in the north and the south reflect on these very real achievements when, in their desperation, they attempt to blame us for Tory cuts which are beyond our control. The fact is, we have protected the vulnerable and the sick, we have protected health and we have defended the education of our children in the face of a massive attack by the British conservative-led government. North and South we have opposed austerity.
“Let me be very clear. Sinn Fein doesn’t do austerity. Others do austerity. We do equality.”
In his speech, Mr. McGuinness also praised members of the Londonderry Bands Forum for attending a fringe event at the Ard Fheis for “raising your head above the parapet.”
The Ard Fheis continues today with events in the Millennium Forum and St Columb’s Hall.