01/07/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


Andrew Neil and Tara Mills with the latest political news and debate including the Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, on plans to reform the second chamber.

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The Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness on the Queen, the


discrimination tribunal and reconciliation. Join me in half-an-


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1683 seconds


Welcome to the programme. Momentous, historic, unprecedented,


however you look at it, this week saw yet another landmark moment. A


once unthinkable gesture between a former IRA leader and the Commander


in Chief of the British armed forces. We will hear from a man --


the man at the centre of it all, Martin McGuinness. With this, Alex


Kane and Eamonn McDermott. This week's handshake ended months


of speculation and discussion as the Deputy First Minister met the


Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. On Friday I interviewed Martin


McGuinness and began by asking him if he had been nervous.


No, not in the least. I obviously understood the historical


significance of what was about to happen and what did happen. Not in


the least nervous, because I had a very clear understanding that


whenever the Palace decided that she would participate in this event


under the auspices of co-operation Ireland and they -- and in the


company of Peter Robinson and myself, I knew I was dealing with


people who were anxious to ensure that this symbolic act would feed


into the peace process in a very powerful way. Of course, the next


phase of that process has to be a process of reconciliation. I hope


the work that others within Sinn Fein and the Unionist community,


and a Protestant churches who are at the exploratory stage of this


process, can use what happened on Wednesday as a powerful indicator


that Sinn Fein are not playing games with this issue. This is a


very important issue and one to which we intend to contribute in a


positive and meaningful way. There has been lots of meaningful


coverage about your personal journey, with pictures going back


to the early 1970s. Is there a particular moment in the last 40


years when he went from sighing never, going from war to peace, was


there were part -- a defining moment? The last 40 years has been


an incredible journey. There's nothing romantic about it, nothing


glorious about it at, and nothing glorious about war. I was always


very conscious of that. We live in a time -- we lived in a time were


better battles were taking place, where people were poorer opposites


and when there was a dismal failure of politics and politicians,


particularly on the British government's side. For me, it was


about recognising that we were in the midst of a conflict, one that


conceivably could have gone on for a very long time, even to this day.


When it comes to meeting the Queen this week, could you have ever


envisaged when you were in the earlier part of your journey by you


would have met the Queen? honest answer is no. Likewise, in


the early stages of this process, particularly in the aftermath of


the achievement of the Good Friday Agreement, when the Democratic


Unionist Party said that Berra raison d'etre was to bring about


the destruction of the agreement, I never imagined that a number of


years later I would have walked into government alongside Ian


Paisley, which was another historic moment in 2007. You soon learn,


when you're in this process, that sometimes anything is possible.


When it comes to the day of a handshake and the meeting, there


has been speculation that the Duke of Edinburgh doctor out of the way.


Is that how you interpreted it? at all. It is typical of the media,


trying to speculate about what happened. What happens in


circumstances like that is that Prince Philip knows whenever Queen


Elizabeth moves at any event, he has to be close by her side. My


sense of it was that is what happened. It was a very good


natured meeting. It was very powerful. It was very nice and it


was a coming together of people who obviously had different allegiances,


but it was a very genuine act of peace and reconciliation. Prince


Philip was as much of that -- a part of that as Queen Elizabeth,


Peter Robinson, the President of Ireland, and myself. You said bet


you wanted to shake hands of every Protestant and Unionist. How does


the judgment from Conor Murphy's discrimination case tie into that?


Is that not disappointing and embarrassing for Sinn Fein?


been released. This is far from finished. People are seeking legal


advice and I would not be at all surprised if this decision was to


be appeased, possibly not just by Conor Murphy but the department and


officials who are associated with the department. We will await the


outcome. There is not a sectarian bone in Conor Murphy's body. Conor


Murphy is part of our leadership. Naturally, it is disappointing that


such a verdict was reached by the tribunal, but that will have to run


its course and it will become something to discuss at some stage.


Does this not call for his resignation? We have to be mature


about this. What is called into question is whether a minister has


a right to make a ministerial appointment, or are ministerial did


-- appointment going to be dictated by a body which is not part of the


government? It is suggested he changed the criteria. We will leave


that to the appeals process. I will not get into analysing the decision


or the response, except to say but I would have no active part in


being involved in an administration that is prepared to discriminate


against anybody. As Irish republicans, who have been long


discriminated against ourselves, the last thing we want to do is


impose any form of discrimination or inequality on any body from the


Protestant community. You have talked about lots of Never Say


Never moments and the art of the impossible. Can you imagine a time


that Sinn Fein would take seas at Westminster? No, and I made a


speech in the House of Commons at - - last night that I will be shortly


resigning my seat because Sinn Fein has decided that double-jobbing


will end. We will be engaging with political parties at Westminster


and on the international stage. I said last night that people need to


respect our position in this. This is a very principled republican


position of long-standing. When we stand in elections we seek support


from the electorate on the basis of our abstentionist policy and in


five very powerful constituencies in the north, we have received the


support of the people. Is that an admission by do still have some way


to go in terms of convincing Unionists of the ideal of a united


Ireland? The honest answer is yes. Unionist allegiance is to what they


call the United Kingdom, and our allegiance is to the island of


Ireland and the people of Ireland. But should not prevent us from


continuing to be involved in joint processes, which make people's


lives better. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I hope to


see through our speaker at the Assembly, and the Speaker of the


Irish parliament, making no public announcement that there will be a


meeting of an Inter Parliamentary Association made up of equal


numbers from Dublin and the Northern Ireland Assembly. All of


that is an example of how we can move forward to ensure that


politicians on the island of Ireland are involved in very


serious discussions and deliberations about how we can, for


example, work together economic lead to make life better for the


people we represent. It has been said this week they you do not gain


anything from being involved over the last 40 years. What motivates


you? I am an Irish republican. I want to bring about a free and


independent Ireland but I want to do that by purely peaceful and


democratic means. I say that as someone who was involved in the


conflict and has not been afraid to say that I was involved in the


conflict. Does that help motivate you, the regret about the people


died? It motivated me. We address this earlier, I said that I came to


be conclusion that there was a monetary stalemate. If there is a


stalemate, if that monetary struggle continues, people are


going to lose their lives. If people like Gerry Adams and myself


had not been involved in trying to get a ceasefire in 194 -- 1994, I


have no doubt that the IRA would still been fighting the British


Army to this very day. The roads would still have been covered by a


British army checkpoint. Things have changed because we made it


changed. Alex Kane, a robust defence of


Conor Murphy. Does that surprise you? Not at all. When you hear a


Sinn Fein minister said that there is not a sectarian bone in his


colleague's body, you almost expect it to be followed by a statement


that some of his friends are in the Orange Order. I suspect that Conor


Murphy did make a huge mistake. It may not have been made as a


sectarian mistake, but there was a decision that someone should not


have been in a position because of his political background. How has


the handshake gone down in Derry? It sounds as if there are two


different sides. Some people think there is disquiet, something it was


a damp squib? -- some think it was. It is politics of the jester. I did


a piece for the newspaper during the week and one man said to me, it


will make no difference. There is disquiet. The Queen is not held in


great esteem in nationalist circles. It is not looked upon as anything


major in the sense that she is some figure of importance. There is


disquiet in that Martin McGuinness says he is still a Republican.


People are saying, how can a Republican shake hands with the


head of British state? People are also saying that it is a step


forward, it had to come at some stage. There are mixed feelings.


How do you think it has gone in the Unionist community? There is a


Jekyll and Hyde man of the station. On Wednesday, you had the bonhomie,


by handshakes, the smiles. 24 hours later, Martin McGuinness was in


London, blaming the British for everything. He is justifying the 40


years of his own involvement in it the terrorist struggle and talking


about reconciliation which only requires that section of Unionism


to take them over. On one hand he says he is doing it to help but on


the other hand he is been terribly insulting and terror be petty. --


terribly Petit. Did he have to play a bike that? You have to remember


that Sinn Fein are playing an All Ireland ticket. Shaking hands with


the British Queen is popular in the south, and they will gain a lot of


credos in the south. It is not so popular in the south. They are


taking a risk in a strategy, saying they can't pick up support in the


south and hoping they do not lose it in the north. It is a balancing


act and I think time will tell whether it has paid off. The Inter


Parliamentary formant -- forum will meet at Stormont, how do you think


it will go down? I think it is part of the optics. Both sides will take


what they want but no decisions will be made.


Thousands braved the wane and stood for ours included -- juice two cat


Je Adams of the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee trap. -- thousands


braved the rain and stayed for hours to capture a glimpse of the


Queen. For anyone who has lost family who


were volunteers, to them it will be a very sad day it because he will


I am still a Republican. How does it feel to meet the Queen? Very


It is different days and shows how There was more than one political


story this week. It was not all fun A very long week for customers of


the Ulster Bank. The problems are not over yet. The issue is complex


and challenging but we are making progress. It will be next week.


schools can bank on a brighter future after a large amount of


money, 173 million, was made available for new buildings. For it


every school that announced today, as many need investment. There were


calls for investment in the water and sewerage system after heavy


rain brought some of the worst flooding seen in Northern Ireland


in years. The fire service, no response. Northern Ireland Water,


no response. It is despicable in this day and age. And of course,


there was a HANDSHAKE -- and of course, there was THAT handshake.


It is a further to a bid that has been cast to decide. It shows that


we are becoming a normal society. There is a story today about the


parlous the estate of an IRA apology. Martin McGuinness said it


was nonsense last night. It says they are going to decide that the


armed struggle was legitimate, yet apologised to security forces


victims. You cannot apologise if you do not think it is wrong.


Republicans have apologised to what they class as the innocent victims


of their campaign. He wrote down that road would be a step too far


from or even the most hardened Republican. There is a demand from


Unionists. Gregory Campbell said it was time for republicans to say


that their campaign was wrong. That is a total disavowal of everything


you believe in. I cannot see be grass roots supporting that.


would it make a difference to Unionists? I do not think it would


make a difference. I do not see how they could do that after what


Martin McGuinness said on Thursday. I do not think Unionists are


looking for that sort of gesture. If they are looking for anything it


is a government working in Northern Ireland for Northern Ireland.


had a good example of that this week, it was Stormont's chance to


shine. They failed miserably in their reaction to the floods.


live in East Belfast and at one stage I thought I would need a boat.


I could not get any services for six hours. If they cannot deal with


something that basic, and they knew it was going to happen, they have


had experience of this in the past five years and every single


occasion they have got it completely wrong. Handing out just


�1,000 is ridiculous. That will not play well with victims? I think


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