The Stormont Deputy First Minister, Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, says he doesn’t believe the change of government in London will have a negative impact on the peace process.
Mr McGuinness made the comments amid concerns that the newly elected Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government will not dedicate as much time to the affairs of the North as the previous Labour administrations.
Tony Blair, in particular, was centrally involved in the peace process from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 to the restoration of the political institutions at Stormont in May 2007.
However, Mr McGuinness says the peace process has come through bigger changes.
“The reality is that the situation we now find ourselves in has changed,” he said. I have been around this peace process long enough to know that nothing stays the same.
“There have been a lot of changes which have been outside of our control. We have seen changes of leaders in Dublin, London, and Washington. We have to play the hand we are dealt.”
The Sinn Fein leader says he expects the new government to honour all previous agreements.
“I explained to David Cameron and Owen Paterson that I expect this British government to remain loyal and true to the Good Friday Agreement, the St Andrews Agreement, and the Hillsborough Agreement.
“Owen Paterson has told me that he intends to remain faithful to the agreements. In light of this, it will be very difficult for people who wish to exploit the recent change of government to try to roll back what has been agreed.”
The Deputy First Minister says he also raised proposed public spending cuts with the new British Direct Ruler during their meeting.
“I told him that there are exceptional circumstances in the North and I quoted US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton when she talked about the need for economic investment to underpin the success of the peace process.
“I made if clear that we are a region that has been underfunded and neglected by successive British governments. We can’t have a situation where the public sector comes under attack at a time when we are trying to grow the economy.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said the Six County economy was “a basket case” after decades of direct rule from London, and had never worked.
The West Belfast MP was addressing a debate on the all-island economy at Stormont yesterday afternoon.
Mr Adams said administrations north and south needed to reduce duplication and unnecessary spending on replica bodies.
“We are not arguing here for a united Ireland,” he told the Six-County Assembly at Stormont. “What we are arguing here is for harmonisation, is common sense relationships.”
He said administrations north and south needed to reduce duplication and unnecessary spending on replica bodies.
The West Belfast MLA was addressing a debate on the all-island economy at Stormont yesterday afternoon.
“What we are talking about is trying to stitch together things which are of benefit to ordinary citizens. We should have more control, more sets of levers, local businesses should have available to them the same assistance as is given to foreign investors.”
He said there should be a single corporation tax, barriers to workers’ mobility throughout Ireland should be removed and there must not be competing development agencies north and south.
The motion was defeated.