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We must face down the extremes within loyalism and dissident republicanism - Martin McGuinness

The Deputy First Minister was speaking a week after the death of Michael McGibbon at the hands of dissidents

Published 22/04/2016

Deputy Minister Martin McGuinness
Deputy Minister Martin McGuinness

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has called for extremes within loyalism and dissident republicanism to be "faced down".

The Sinn Fein man made the call at his party's Ard Fheis on Friday night just one week after north Belfast man Michael McGibbon was killed by dissident republicans.

The taxi driver died in his wife's arms after being shot in the legs by members of a dissident group which styles itself the "IRA".

Just days later Londonderry man Harry Boyle was taken to hospital after being shot in the leg by dissidents.

A sinister sign appeared in west Belfast on Wednesday evening warning "loose talk costs lives".

Last month prison officer Adrian Ismay died after after a booby-trap bomb planted by dissident exploded under his van in east Belfast

Mr McGuinness has accused dissidents of "waging war on our communities".

"We must continue to face down the extremes within loyalism and so-called dissident republicanism who would seek to drag us back to the dark days of the past," he said.

"All they have to offer is fear, intimidation and pointless bloodshed.

"We have seen that in recent days and weeks with the murders of Michael McGibbon and prison officer Adrian Ismay in Belfast and the shooting of Harry Boyle in my own city of Derry.

"The people who carried out these acts are waging war on our communities.

"But their campaign – which couldn’t be called a military campaign - is not only futile it is without support."

Mr McGuinness sent a message to dissidents that they have been "rejected by the people of Ireland".

"The only purpose of those involved in these gangs is to see British military occupation of areas like the Bogside, east Tyrone, west Belfast and south Armagh," he said.

"They have been rejected by the people of Ireland and we won’t allow them to do that.

"It is the Sinn Féin national and democratic project which citizens are embracing.

"In increasing numbers, they are voting for us to build the peace, to promote consensus."

Meanwhile Mr McGuinness also claimed in his speech to the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis that this generation will be the one to realise a united Ireland.

Speaking on the centenary weekend of the 1916 Easter Rising where Irish Rebels attempted to overthrow British rule in Ireland by force, Mr McGuinness said he believes the vision of 1916 is "alive and well and achievable".

"This generation, including the people in this room, will be the generation that finally realises the dream," he told party delegates.

"The Good Friday Agreement provides the political framework to achieve the vision of 1916.

"A century on from the Rising and 35 years from the Hunger strikes, an agreed Ireland is desirable. An agreed Ireland is achievable.

"The vision of 1916 is alive and well, as relevant and inspiring today as it was a century ago.

"Together we can make it a reality."

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