Speech by Martin McGuinness on the resumption of devolved government in Northern Ireland, Stormont, Belfast, (8 May 2007)
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Speech by Martin McGuinness (SF), then Deputy First Minister, on the resumption of devolved government in Northern Ireland, Stormont, Belfast, (8 May 2007)
"I am very proud as an Irish Republican who believes in the unity of Ireland to stand here with all of you today. And I wish to very warmly welcome the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the Prime Minister Tony Blair, and all our friends from around the world whose encouragement and support helped us reach this momentous day.
There are people here from the United States of America, from Palestine, from South Africa, from the Basque Country and many other parts of the world.
Many people in this hall today played an important part in our peace process. And many others unfortunately could not be with us today. I want to send to them our warmest thanks.
We will continue to rely on that support as we strive towards a society moving from division and disharmony to one which celebrates our diversity and is determined to provide a better future for all of our people.
One which cherishes the elderly, the vulnerable, the young and all of our children equally. Which welcomes warmly those from other lands and cultures who wish to join us and forge a future together.
A society which remembers those who have lost their lives. Last Saturday and Sunday I spent time with families in County Tyrone who had lost loved ones. They and many others throughout our community have suffered greatly and they continue to suffer as a result of our difficult and painful past. So we must look to the future and we must look to find the means to help them heal.
We must also focus on the practical. To build we need the tools and as I have said we look to our friends on these islands and beyond to provide the practical support we need.
As joint heads of this Executive the First Minister and I pledge to do all in our power to ensure it makes a real difference to the lives of all our people by harnessing their skills through a first rate education system, caring for our sick in the best health service we can provide and building our economy through encouraging investment and improving our infrastructure.
We know that this will not be easy and the road we are embarking on will have many twists and turns. It is however a road which we have chosen and which is supported by the vast majority of our people. In the recent elections they voted for a new political era based on peace and reconciliation.
On the evening of the Assembly election results I received a phone call from a 100 year young woman, Molly Gallagher, from Ardra in County Donegal. This is a very active woman, very alert, watches the news every day. She told me she was very happy with the election results and that she was looking forward to seeing Ian Paisley and myself together. So I'm sure Molly is watching us today. Hello Molly.
As for Ian Paisley, I want to wish you all the best as we step forward towards the greatest, yet most exciting challenge of our lives.
Ireland's greatest living poet, and probably the greatest poet writing in the English language, a fellow Derry man, Seamus Heaney, once told a gathering that I attended at Magee University that for too long and too often we speak of the others, or the other side, and that what we need to do is to get to a place of through otherness. So the Office of the First and deputy First Minsters is a good place to start. This will only work if we collectively accept the wisdom and importance of Seamus Heaneys words.
Since March 26 much work has been done which has confounded critics and astounded the sceptics. Like these talented people from 'Sky's the Limit', who entertained us so wonderfully today, and I think also inspired us, we must overcome the difficulties which we face in order to achieve our goals and seize the opportunities that now exist. This, and future generations, expect and deserve no less from us."
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