McGuinness makes Sri Lanka peace trip
McGuinness makes Sri Lanka peace trip

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness is to travel to Sri Lanka next week to speak on conflict resolution at the invitation of a peace group.

Mr McGuinness is going on the four-day visit to encourage renewed efforts towards a negotiated settlement amid reports that the popular tourist destination could slip back into civil war.

Mr McGuinness will have talks with Sri Lankan president Mahinka Rajapakse and the Tamil leadership.

He said last night that the ceasefire in Sri Lanka was very, very shaky and there were increasing acts of violence on both sides.

“There is a real danger that the ceasefire could break down and could spark a very bloody war,” he said.

“The Tamils control the north eastern part of the country as it stands. The government controls the rest of the country.

“So, there is a kind of un-easy peace, a very fragmented peace.

“In this sort of situation, similar to our own conflict, any notion of military victory or defeat is just impossible.

“The only alternative to conflict and the only way to resolve conflict is through dialogue and engagement.

“It is a question of accepting that there needs to be accommodation and compromise.

“You need to see the situation through the eyes of your opponents and try to understand their perspective and try and reach an acceptable and honourable compromise on both sides.

“Obviously there is no blueprint... and the situation is very different from ours.

“But my core message is that the leaderships on both sides need to get together and to work out, no matter how difficult it is, an accommodation they can live with.”

Leaders on both sides of the Sri Lankan conflict are known to have a strong interest in the Irish peace process, which is viewed as a model for progress.

The Sinn Fein spokesman said it was ironic that his party is being asked to help solve difficulties on the international stage, while local politicians won’t engage with them.

“At international level, people involved in conflict resolution people are seeking the advice of Sinn Fein, but in Ireland we have the paradoxical situation where the DUP refuses to speak to Sinn Fein.

“This goes against what’s happening on the international dimension.

“We are conscious that our own process of conflict resolution and that has to be our primary focus and priority, but while we have an opportunity to contribute elsewhere we will do that.”

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