The Ulster Unionists have criticised Sinn Fein’s idea of reconciliation as being “fatally flawed” after the party launched a new document on peace building.
In revealing the document today, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said there was concern among republicans that gestures that he and senior colleagues had undertaken had not been reciprocated by unionist counterparts.
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt hit back, saying: “When it comes to reconciliation the Ulster Unionists have been leaders.
“We were first to voluntarily share power when we did so at council level.
“We led unionism in negotiating the 1998 settlement that brought power sharing to Stormont and we remain committed to building a new Northern Ireland based on mutual respect, tolerance, and the rule of law.
“The irony of Sinn Fein using the launch of a paper on reconciliation to give unionism a poke in the eye appears lost on them.
“We have consistently identified a need to reach a common understanding of what reconciliation means. Sinn Fein clearly see it as a journey.
“But in defining the journey’s end as something unionism can never support – a united Ireland – their idea of reconciliation is fatally flawed.”
Martin McGuinness singled out his historic meeting with the Queen as an example where he had taken a lead – see details of that meeting here.
He said it was important for unionists, in turn, to reach out to republicans, noting the need for respect for the Irish language and culture.
Mr McGuinness said he was not criticising his partners in government, the DUP, but said he wanted to have a “gentle” conversation on how political unionism could do more.