Visit by the Deputy First Minister
This week the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness visited the Politics Society. Mr McGuinness began by telling us his claim to fame was playing golf with former Sullivan pupil, Rory McIlroy, at the back of Stormont Castle when he nearly took the head off Peter Robinson’s private secretary!
The Deputy First Minister started by saying that the media’s reports of him and Peter Robinson having fallen out were not true and that they talk every day. Recent discussions included dealing with issues such as the Belfast City Hall flag disputes, the summer parades and welfare reform. Mr McGuinness said that although he and Peter Robinson came to office during a recession they have been able to attract foreign direct investment from the USA, Brazil and China with the creation of 1000s of jobs in the region. He also said that Northern Ireland was being damaged by the London government’s resistance to lower corporation tax from 21% to 12.5%, as is the case in the Republic of Ireland, and went on to say that following a meeting with David Cameron there were no plans to devolve corporation taxes powers until after the Scottish independence referendum.
Mr McGuinness used his home city of Derry as an example of how relations have improved in Northern Ireland. He said that there are now regular meetings between himself, the DUP, Bogside Resident Association and the Apprentice Boys to discuss parades and there are no longer any major issues with parading.
The first question put to the Deputy First Minister was about the Education and Skills Authority and its impact on grammar schools. Mr McGuinness confirmed agreement has been reached between Sinn Féin and the DUP and grammar schools, such as Sullivan, should be happy.
Mr McGuinness was then asked if he believed an opposition at the Assembly would make it more effective. He said that the people talking about forming an opposition (ie the UUP and SDLP) were the ones who wanted it least and believes that what they want is remain in the executive but also criticise it at the same time.
We thoroughly enjoyed welcoming the Deputy First Minister to the Politics Society and hope he returns to Sullivan in the future.
Jamie Woods Chairman of the Politics Society