Belfast Telegraph

Take Ian Paisley's lead, urges Martin McGuinness

By Philip Ryan

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness believes the tensions threatening stability in Northern Ireland would not be happening if he were still in government with his "good friend" Ian Paisley.

They were once political nemeses, but Mr McGuinness paid his last respects by calling on the current unionist leadership to take note of the huge advances Mr Paisley made to the peace process.

The Deputy First Minister said he hoped Mr Paisley's death would remind people of how enemies were able to put "old difficulties aside and work together for the greater good".

"I think if Ian Paisley, 30 years younger, was leading the party then things would be different," he said. "Over a number of decades we were political opponents and held very different views on many, many issues but the one thing we were absolutely united on was the principle that our people were better able to govern themselves than any British government. I want to pay tribute to and comment on the work he did in the latter days of his political life in building agreement and leading unionism into a new accommodation with republicans and nationalists."

Ironically, just hours before hearing of Mr Paisley's death, Mr McGuinness delivered a hard-hitting speech attacking unionist politicians who he claimed "routinely excuse and defend racism, sectarianism and homophobia".

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