Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams says 'sustainable' Stormont deal needed in the absence of Martin McGuinness

Sinn Fein leader says Martin McGuinness had helped to carry the institutions

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said that if a power-sharing deal was made at Stormont tomorrow it wouldn't last unless it is "sustainable", due to the absence of Martin McGuinness.

The Sinn Fein leader made the comments in an interview with Sky News on Sunday morning.

Asked why agreement could not be reached at Stormont over relatively minor issues like an Irish language act last week, he replied:

"The issues we have to deal with are not as difficult as the issues which we have dealt with in the past and resolved in the past."

"It isn't that we're reluctant to share power, I believe fully and we're wedded to the Good Friday Agreement and the political institutions.

"But as Martin McGuinness said there can be no return to the status quo, so what went wrong was that terms of previous agreements and accords were not implemented and not delivered."

He added: "When you have somebody as big and as strong and formidable as Martin he could carry that to a certain degree for the rest of us. Martin's gone so even if we were able to cobble something together tomorrow it wouldn't last so I want it to be sustainable."

During the interview Mr Adams also denied that a special designated status  for Northern Ireland post-Brexit would be a united Ireland by the back door.

He said there was little doubt the Irish border would become a "hard economic frontier" following Brexit unless Northern Ireland was given special status.

He insisted this would not infringe on the constitutional issue.

"That can only be sorted out if a majority of people in the north and the south vote for it," he said.

"But we have to deal with what is essentially an English problem. The English government are ignoring what the people of Scotland want, they're ignoring what the people of the north of Ireland want."

Asked why he had not followed the lead of the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in asking the Prime Minister for an independence referendum he said: "I'm very conscious that a republic should not be seen in anyway as exploiting the consequences of Brexit. The type of Ireland we want has to be one in which unionism, decent unionists, are content.

"It needs to be agreed, it needs to give them their place, it needs to respect everything that they want in terms of the way forward. It can't be like putting the shoe on the other foot. We don't want, I don't want, as someone who was born into a state that didn't want me I don't want a new Ireland to be anything other than a harmonious fraternity of all the people who live on this Ireland."

So many people knew Martin McGuinness, he was a fixture for decades, he's more affable than me, more outgoing, he's not as shy as me." Gerry Adams

Addressing the issue of the legacy of the Troubles, he denied his agenda was getting British soldiers in the dock and said he would be prepared to speak about his own alleged IRA past if the right mechanisms were in place.

"Well it isn't about getting British soldiers in the dock, it's about the victims of British soldiers being treated exactly the same as the victims of the IRA or any other combatant force," he said.

"Our position has been for an international independent truth commission that everybody can make use of but we compromised on this issue and yes I believe that victims of the IRA or at least their relatives have the right to truth and I believe that those who are victims of British Army violence or state violence also have the right to the truth and the British Government is holding that back."

On discussing his personal involvement he added: "I have said - and Martin and I said this together, and we've said it quite a few times - that we would both do our best and we would also encourage other republicans to come forward if there was a satisfactory arrangement put in place and that's my commitment. Martin's not here but that's still my commitment."

The Sinn Fein leader also spoke about dealing with the death of Martin McGuinness.

"I miss him in terms of the daily grind of the work that we're doing, from 1972 this is the first talks process that he and I haven't been together. But I miss him also at a personal level, deeply so. I reconciled myself to that because I know you have to go through a grieving process," he said.

"So many people knew Martin McGuinness, he was a fixture for decades, he's more affable than me, more outgoing he's not as shy as me."

"I used to say getting Martin out of a meeting, venue or event was like trying to get a drunk man out of a pub because he wanted to have the craic and talk and shake hands with and swap stories with every single person there and that was his nature and that's one of the reasons why people think of him so fondly."

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