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Martin McGuinness
"The Good Friday Agreement was an all-Ireland agreement."
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Saturday, 4 December, 1999, 10:04 GMT
McGuinness: Let's work together
Martin McGuinness 'Politicians have great responsibility" - Martin McGuinness

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has called for political stability in Northern Ireland to help bring about the destruction of terrorist weapons.

The Assembly's education minister also urged the integration of Protestant and Catholic schools, and said he was completely opposed to the 11-plus exam.

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Mr McGuinness told BBC Radio Four's Today programme that normalising politics would greatly aid the decommissioning process.

"I believe that it is the responsibility of political leaders, politicians to take control of the political situation, to press on, and hopefully to create the conditions and circumstances which will make it possible for armed groups to destroy their weapons, or whatever, decommission," he said.

His comments came as General John de Chastelain's commission - the body overseeing arms decommissioning in Northern Ireland - prepares to meet an IRA go-between.

Against 11-plus

On the possible integration of Protestant and Catholic schools in the province, he said: "I very much want to see children coming together and parents having choice."

He stated his "complete" opposition to the 11-plus examination, which he failed himself.

"We face real problems. We have a problem here in the north of Ireland with this dreaded 11-plus examination, we have a huge problem with social disadvantage, exclusion, under achievement, and of course many of our pupils suffer from dyslexia."

Mr McGuinness denied that his appointment in the new devolved assembly would make him a servant of the British Crown

"I won't be serving the Crown, I will be serving the people of Ireland, the people who voted for the Good Friday Agreement, and the people who voted to put us into the Assembly.

"They are the people I'm responsible to," he said.

He said the establishment of a power-sharing executive marked the first step in a "loosening of the knot" between Belfast and London, describing the Good Friday Agreement as an "all-Ireland agreement".

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See also:
01 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
Decommissioning: The paramilitary figures
02 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
'Challenges lie ahead' - Blair
30 Nov 99 |  Northern Ireland
McGuinness promises fair treatment
30 Nov 99 |  Northern Ireland
Martin McGuinness's big day
03 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
Momentum keeps peace process going
03 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
Gearing up for IRA talks

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