McGuinness WILL attend events during Pres Higgins state visit to GB

Statement released by Sinn Fein tonight

We also seek an agreed, united Ireland which accommodates those who define themselves as British.

It is within this context that I can confirm that deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will accept an invitation to attend all events as part of the State visit.

This decision by a confident republican leadership is in keeping with the transition that is ongoing within the island of Ireland and between Ireland, including the North, and Britain.

There is now a peaceful and democratic way to end the Union and Partition. This is a work in progress and Sinn Féin accepts that there is an onus on us to persuade our unionist neighbours that their interests are best served in a new, agreed Ireland.

While Martin McGuinness’s involvement in President Higgins’s State visit may not be welcome by opponents of change, it is yet another example of Sinn Féin’s commitment to an inclusive future based on tolerance an equality.

This decision may cause difficulty for some Irish republicans in light of ongoing difficulties in the north but, I would appeal to them to view this positively in the context of republican and democratic objectives and the interests of unity and peace on this island.

The real significance and value of President Higgins’s visit, will only be realised if peace and the political processes are built upon by both Governments. That means implementing all outstanding elements of the Good Friday and other Agreements

In other news, Peter Robinson said today that it is likely that he will not meet the Pope. I know sometimes, I give the party a hard time, but this move is very welcome and should add to the importance of President Higgins state visit to Britain.

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs