Martin McGuinness: Unionist leaders must challenge loyalists over street violence
Martin McGuinness has urged unionist leaders to challenge loyalists who use street violence after what he called their "total failure" to do so.
The Deputy First Minister contrasted unionist leadership with his own stance against the dissident republicans who have killed soldiers and police: he has denounced them as "traitors".
After unionist and republican relations took a nosedive following Union flag protests, a summer of rioting around parades and Peter Robinson's withdrawal of support for the Maze peace centre, the Sinn Fein leader called on unionists to confront extreme elements.
"Nobody has any doubt where I stand in relation to those who believe it's a good idea to kill soldiers and police and prison officers," he said.
"What's important is that, when you're tested, you stand firm against the violent activities of those who would try to plunge our people back into the misery of the past."
Mr McGuinness criticised the DUP and the Ulster Unionists for being dictated to by the extremes "and now the question comes down to people's ability to confront this negative agenda. In my opinion there has been a total failure to confront the activities of these people publicly. I think that's a big mistake."
One undisputably bad moment for the DUP and Sinn Fein came last month with a militarist Sinn Fein parade through the village of Castlederg to mark the 40th anniversary of the deaths of two IRA members killed by their own bomb there.
"Some claimed it was a celebration but it was not; it was a commemoration," said Mr McGuinness.
"But in terms of the parade there is a lot of reflection to be done in regard to how these situations are conducted."