Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness inspired by Queen to work on past retirement age

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

By Rebecca Black

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said he has no plans to retire, citing the Queen as positive example of someone working into their older years.

The 64-year-old said he will continue as long as he remained in good health and is wanted.

In an interview with RTE, the Sinn Fein man cautioned against "ageism" when he was asked whether he planned to run for re-election to the Assembly in 2016.

"I've always said if my health holds out, if my party and the people wish me to continue with the work, I will do that," he said.

"We still face huge challenges, there are people on the extremes of loyalism and people on the extremes of so-called republicanism who are still determined to bring down these institutions.Let's not be ageist about this, I still consider myself fairly young, still consider myself as someone who has a lot to offer.

"I hope that my contribution to this peace process over the last 20 years is something to be proud of. I think that as long as my health holds out and my intelligence holds out, I will continue to do the work.

"When I became an Irish republican, I didn't become an Irish republican to retire at retirement age. I became an Irish republican to go to my grave as an Irish republican."

He pointed out that Hillary Clinton (67) may be running for US President and that Queen Elizabeth (89) continues to work.

"The British Queen is much much older than I am... I regard her, even though she is at an elderly stage of her life, as someone who sets a very powerful example to many backwards people who refuse to become involved in the conciliation process," he said.

In contrast to DUP claims in its election launch that the number of MPs it sends to Westminster could help influence the make-up of the next government, Mr McGuinness said anyone who believed that was in "cloud cuckoo land".

"Those people who offer up the notion that the DUP, Sinn Fein or the SDLP would be decisive in any way in the formation of the next government are living in cloud cuckoo land," he said.

Mr McGuinness also rubbished claims that Gerry Adams must sign off any political deal negotiated by Sinn Fein.

"The people who say that are our political opponents, there is absolutely no truth in that whatsoever," he said.

"We are a collective leadership, we have never made any secret of that. Gerry Adams and I have a very close political relationship for a lifetime... our futures are bound together."

Sinn Fein is currently preparing for three elections - Westminster in May as well as the Dail and the Assembly in 2016.

Mr McGuinness said he felt performing well in these three elections can help "propel forward" to a united Ireland.

"Sinn Fein has signed up to various agreements which have been made over the course of recent years. I intend to remain faithful to those agreements but at the same time I am an Irish republican and Sinn Fein is an Irish republican party. We are a party that has ambitions to be in government north and south, and to eventually be part of an Irish government that governs all of Ireland's 32 counties," he said.

"Our objective is to achieve by peaceful and democratic means the re-unification of our country. That will take however long it takes to do. If I stand on O'Connell Street with Gerry Adams and he is in government in Dublin and I am in government in the north, that doesn't give us the united Ireland we aspire to but it certainly propels us well along that road."

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