McGuinness in hunger strike tribute
Sinn Fein's electoral success in Ireland, north and south, can be traced back to the republican hunger strikes of 1981, Martin McGuinness has said.
The Deputy First Minister was opening a new exhibition in Belfast on the prison protest that saw 10 men starve to death in a demand for political status.
Mr McGuinness detailed how the decision to stand hunger strikers for election, including Bobby Sands, who was MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone when he died, had sparked the republican movement's shift into electoral politics.
He was joined at the Linen Hall Library event by Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald, two of the party's new crop of 14 representatives who won seats in the Republic's general election.
Mr McGuinness said the party was now preparing for local government and Assembly elections north of the border on May 5, the anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands.
"The hunger strikers and Bobby's participation, with Kieran Doherty and other hunger strikers, in the elections was a seminal moment in the development of Irish republicanism," he said.
"From then to now, we have steadily built Irish republicanism on this island, with enormous success in the north.
"It's fair to say there was disappointment in terms of our lack of ability to keep pace with what was happening in the north, in the south of our country.
"But what has happened over the weekend has been a step-change.
"It has been an enormous, enormous political development in the republicanising of this island."