Martin McGuinness today said he believes First Minister Peter Robinson wants the power-sharing Executive to work.
But the Deputy First Minister also said it is “early days” for the new DUP leader and there have been “difficulties”.
The senior Sinn Fein strategist added: “My assessment is why would he not want it to work? It’s still early days in the leadership of Peter Robinson, but I’m working on the basis that he wants this to succeed. I’m optimistic.”
The comments came as the two main Executive parties continued to prepare for preliminary talks later this week, possibly on Thursday, in which Mr McGuinness may be involved.
In an interview Mr McGuinness also reveals more about meeting disabled police officers injured by the IRA. “They shook hands and said, ‘We’re here to support what are you doing, that we support this process’.”
The Mid-Ulster MP also says dissident republicans are “living in cloud cuckoo land”.
Acknowledging restlessness and frustration in the republican community, Mr McGuinness said: “A Rubicon has been crossed by everybody, and the project for me now is to ensure that there can be no going back.
“Compromises have had to be made: compromise is a dirty word in the course of Irish politics, but people recognise that they had to be made.
“I’ll tell you what I’ve learnt. I’ve learnt that nothing is impossible — that no matter how things are, if there’s a will to find a way through, then a way will be found.”
Now more than 16 months in office, Mr McGuinness says of his former partner in power-sharing, Ian Paisley, that he respected his mandate and age “and the courageous decision he took to come into government”.
And he says that attitudes towards both the former First Minister and the self-confessed former IRA man changed overnight.
“Something very, very powerful has happened,” Mr McGuinness added.