Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Monday, 25 May 2009 13:52 UK

McGuinness warns of deadlock risk

Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness called for unionists to embrace 'all-Ireland unity'

Northern Ireland's deputy first minister Martin McGuinness has warned unionists that the alternative to partnership with Sinn Fein is deadlock.

Mr McGuinness said some DUP members believed they could "reverse the Good Friday Agreement".

"The hard lesson of the peace process is, some day soon, even the Afrikaner wing of unionism will be brought to a place it never wanted to be," he said.

He was speaking at a hunger strike commemoration in County Londonderry.

"In the time ahead the best option for unionists is, I believe, to join - as equal, and influential, participants - in the onward march towards all-Ireland unity and national reconciliation," he said.

In a speech billed in advance as significant by Sinn Fein sources, Mr McGuinness said: "There are clearly some senior members of the DUP - and some in the civil service and British system - who miss playing the 'Orange card'.

"Others think that they can start to reverse the template of the Good Friday Agreement, with its all-inclusive power-sharing structures, its accountable political institutions, and its bedrock of equality and human rights for all.

"My message to them is clear: the old ways are gone - never to return."

The deputy first minister also criticised dissident republicans as "wreckers who are seeking to exploit tiny pockets of disaffection".

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