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Nobel winner Mairead Maguire in alternative Northern Ireland talks proposal

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Youth plea: Mairead Maguire

Youth plea: Mairead Maguire

Youth plea: Mairead Maguire

A Nobel Peace Prize winner from Northern Ireland has said that if the DUP and Sinn Fein cannot make a deal to restore Stormont, the British and Irish governments should hold talks with the other parties instead.

Mairead Maguire also suggested the two main parties were entrenching sectarian divisions for party political gain.

Ms Maguire and Betty Williams co-founded Women for Peace, which later became the Community for Peace People, to encourage a peaceful resolution of the Troubles.

They organised massive peace demonstrations after Ms Maguire's sister Anne's three children were killed by an IRA getaway car, whose driver had just been shot dead by a soldier in August 1976. They were awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.

Since then, Ms Maguire has dedicated her life to promoting peace. Writing on the Peace People website, Ms Maguire argued that the future was being squandered in Northern Ireland.

"It is astonishing to me that some of our political representatives know full well that their refusal to sit around the Executive Table and the Assembly in Stormont Parliament means a political stalemate and a vacuum of power," she wrote.

Ms Maguire said MLAs' refusal to represent those who elected them was leading to unemployment, homelessness and poverty.

"I believe the problem lies in the older generations who have suffered terribly on all sides through violence and fear," she wrote. "My generation has a responsibility to not restrain the youth by our bigotry and division. It is my hope that in the future we will have non-sectarian elections in a Parliament of left, right and centre."

She said that "it is time to put aside egos, individual and collective, for the sake of the youth".

"If this scenario of dysfunctional politics continues, we are each challenged to ask the question: are Sinn Fein or the Democratic Unionists (DUP) pursuing divisionary politics in a quest for continued power? We can see this in the more centralised votes leaning away from moderate and towards hardline parties over the last 20 years," she wrote.

"At this point in our history, faced as we are with important decision regarding Brexit and the question of a soft/hard border, it is even more important that all our elected politicians be present at the table to speak on behalf of the people.

"It is also important that our political representatives work for a full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the healing and reconciliation of our society.

"Unfortunately, if the two parties are not able to reconcile their differences then it is the responsibility of the British and Irish governments to hold talks with remaining parties willing to govern in Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph