The Irish News political reporter John Manley spoke with Martin McGuinness ahead of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Wexford this weekend. The interview covered his relationship with the DUP, the image of the Executive and his political future.
It was overall an interesting interview as Manley compared McGuinness’ attitude to that of a ‘spurned lover’ when he spoke about his relationship with the DUP. The interview in its entirety is worth a read but there are some bits here that I found very interesting.
When he was recalling Peter Robinson’s now infamous letter from the USA killing off the peace centre at the Maze prison site McGuinness protests the lack of consultation telling Manley
It came as a bolt from the blue — not even a phone call
But while there was no consultation McGuinness does not intend to leave the issue dead and buried as he promises to pursue the implementation of the project as agreed in the Programme for Government.
On the poor image of the Executive and the assembly McGuinness is clear where the blame lies
That fault’s not mine…I’ve reached out the hand of friendship to everybody; I’ve bent over backwards and done everything in my power to try and bring the situation forward towards normal politics — but there’s nothing normal about this place.
He fundamentally believes that DUP reticence over power-sharing and their kneejerk reactions have halted the momentum that was generated when power-sharing was restored in 2007 as he harks back to his twelve months in office with Ian Paisley as the time of progress.
A more worrying statement was the fact that nearly 7 years into government with the DUP, McGuinness says that some DUP MLAs still will not acknowledge him in the corridors of Stormont.
On his future and that of his party leader, McGuinness does acknowledge that there will come a time for a leadership transition but any speculation about just driven by the media and those opposed to Sinn Fein. However, he does acknowledge that when the time comes for a new leader that it will be a fresh face and certainly not him.
Overall, it was an interesting interview and the internal dynamics with Stormont and Sinn Fein will be something to keep our eyes on over the next few years. How will this part adjust without its main double act there to guide them? And what would happen if a less co-operative Sinn Fein leader where to become the Deputy First Minister?
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs