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McGuinness played major role in peace process and despite his resignation this should not be forgotten

The journey that Northern Ireland has taken in the past 20 years is nothing less than remarkable. The people and the politicians of the Stormont institutions should be very proud.

The relationship that Sinn Fein and the DUP have built on since 2004 is surely not perfect, but over the years, there has been a willingness to create a formal relationship that has been built on the principle of integrity and respect.

The iconic representation of this was the unlikely friendship dubbed the 'Chuckle Brothers' that was formed between Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley to create the power-sharing government that has seen 10 years of continuous government.

That said, it did come as a surprise when Deputy First Minister McGuinness resigned and collapsed the Executive.

Regardless of his health issues, did he really have any other choice?

While his resignation has garnered mixed reactions among politicians, political commentators and historians alike, no one can deny the pivotal role that McGuinness had in brokering the peace agreement in Northern Ireland and also, until recently, ensuring that Stormont remained fit for purpose.

While McGuinness might be remembered for a lot of things, I think revisionist historians will treat him kindly in the grand scheme of the peace process.

Historians like Ruth Dudley Edwards have always failed to understand that, without the co-operation of paramilitary leaders such as McGuinness and David Ervine, that the peace across the island may not have been achieved to the extent it has.


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DUP and SF incapable of creating good future

The picture presented by the DUP and Sinn Fein, as they emerged from Stormont last week, may best be described as pathetic.

The DUP arrogant, sullen, obstinate; Sinn Fein arrogant, self-righteous, indignant, bearing the crown of the martyr. It represented, above all, a spectacle of failure.

Ten years ago, at St Andrews, the British Government handed both the DUP and Sinn Fein an unrivalled platform for electoral success, as it diluted the Good Friday Agreement and proffered us Paisley and McGuinness as champions of political stability, peace and reconciliation.

Today, the evidence points only to failure, frustration of our hopes and manifest irreconcilability.

These parties - the DUP and Sinn Fein - who have "given us the worst of the past", extreme unionism and extreme nationalism, cannot be expected to give us "the best of the future".

They appear both unwilling and incapable of doing so.


Maghera, Co Londonderry

Punishment beatings aren't a thing of fiction

Boris Johnson's criticism for linking punishment beatings with Second World War movies could easily have been avoided.

All he needed to do was to look closer to home to see that punishment beatings aren't the stuff of drama - paramilitaries are still killing and maiming people in Northern Ireland, much as they have done for almost 50 years.

While it took five years for the world to crush Nazi tyranny, it is abundantly clear, half-a-century since the beginning of the Troubles, that there is no political backbone whatsoever to end the serial human rights abuses by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.

How can we make a Fresh Start until this iniquity is addressed?


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Case shows abortion law must be reformed

The case of the young couple, dragged through the criminal justice system and eventually cautioned, highlights the urgent need for abortion law reform in Northern Ireland.

The couple, aged in their 20s, purchased medicines to procure an abortion back in 2015.

They were charged under the Offences Against the Persons Act - legislation which dates right back to 1861.

This young couple are victims of archaic Northern Ireland abortion laws and lack of political progress more generally.

They are not criminals. They simply had no access to safe, regulated abortion in Northern Ireland.

The court heard that the young woman is suffering from mental health problems and has a history of self-harm.

Thankfully, her identify and that of her partner was protected to offer her some safeguarding.

Surely, a criminal investigation is not in the public interest under these circumstances?

Furthermore, GPs and A&Es provide care for people in connection with misuse of drugs each and every day.

I wouldn't expect the PSNI to investigate these patients, or their care-providers, and the PPS to drag them before the courts - indeed, this would cause the criminal justice system to fracture.

So, how was it in the public interest to arrest this young woman and her partner for attempting to procure an abortion?

I have worked on abortion law reform since I was elected to the Assembly last May. Unfortunately, this work is on hold because of the RHI-precipitated Executive collapse.

I'll be back on the electoral trail very soon. While I love spending time in south Belfast and engaging with the people every day, I'd rather be representing their interests up at Stormont.

The Executive has wasted time, money and the opportunity to provide stable government.

It's people like this young couple who ultimately suffer as a result as the politics of waste.


MLA for South Belfast

Be bold and don't vote for old tribal parties

I wholeheartedly agree with the views of Wilson Burgess (Write Back, January 18).

But we, the voters, do have the answer - if we are bold.

When voting, forget the same old tribal habits.

If you want real change, just vote for any candidate who's not Sinn Fein or unionist.

That should knock their heads together.


Carnlough, Co Antrim

Belfast Telegraph