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Cancel this pointless election and start working on improving our health and education systems

By resigning from the Executive, in the knowledge that Sinn Fein did not intend to nominate a new Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness collapsed the political institutions set up to achieve peace across these islands.

He and his party have created a political crisis and shown a reckless attitude towards the Good Friday Agreement, and any assessment of his contribution towards the peace process should bear this in mind.

The DUP deserves to be held to account in the Assembly through the committee system and, if necessary, through an independent inquiry.

However, Sinn Fein's response was unacceptable, particularly as most of the challenges we face as a society were caused by campaigns of violence waged by republicans and others.

I once told Martin McGuinness that, while I abhorred his previous actions, I was prepared to work with him, provided he acted constructively for the benefit of everyone.

Like many others, I was taking a pragmatic approach to forgiveness, which enabled me to do business with him, even though he always maintained the position that the IRA campaign of violence was justified.

Nothing was achieved through violence that could not otherwise have been achieved through peaceful means. SF will have to come to terms with that reality, as well as get over its frustration that the police and the Army prevented its movement from killing many more people and causing civil war.

The best achievable outcome for nationalists and republicans is to show they can work Northern Ireland so well that Irish unity becomes a viable proposition. Any less constructive strategy will only continue to hurt people, damage the economy, threaten more disorder and, as the past use of violence, make the likelihood of achieving their constitutional preference less likely.

The Secretary of State should be pragmatic, as the Government has been in the past, and call the parties together in order to suggest that they agree to cancel an election which will waste everyone's time and money.

They should get back to dealing with all the issues that need to be resolved urgently, like the health service, the economy and the education system.


Holywood, Co Down

Belfast Telegraph