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Refusal to accept second class citizenship is not a red line - Declan Kearney

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Christmas has rarely provided much of a break for the Sinn Féin leadership. In recent years we have invested heavily in the Haass/O’Sullivan, Stormont House and then Fresh Start talks processes.

During the Christmas and New Year break of 2016/17 we met continuously to review the political situation in the north, which had been brought to a tipping point by the Renewable Heating Incentive scheme financial scandal.

At this time last year I was preparing to travel to Dublin.

Many very important Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle and National Officer Board meetings have taken place in recent decades.

One year ago on Sunday 8 January another of those landmark meetings took place at Ard Oifig Shinn Féin in Dublin.

Martin McGuiness had sent a proposal that he should resign as deputy First Minister. This was unanimously endorsed by our Ard Chomhairle.

Martin was not at that meeting. He was too weak to travel, having spent a period in hospital undergoing treatment.

After the Ard Chomhairle, our National Officer Board met and Martin joined that meeting by conference call.

He was absolutely resolute about the need to resign.The political situation had become unsustainable. It was untenable for Martin and other Sinn Fein ministers to remain in the Executive with the DUP given the cumulative build-up of financial scandals; that party’s institutionalised bigotry and bad faith; and, the hallmark disrespect and sneering contempt shown by DUP members towards northern nationalists, the LGB&T community, ethnic minorities and women, which had come to define the political institutions.

A fair bit of that second meeting revolved around the communication of the party’s decision.

Martin was insistent, against the advice of........

© An Phoblacht