Together we can make it happen – by Mark Thompson

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When the late Martin McGuinness MLA decided to withdraw support for the executive, which at that point had become untenable, it was truly a measure of last resort.

His efforts behind the scenes in a bid for the DUP to see sense and salvage some hope were rebuffed. And all this effort between medical appointments, treatments and leaving hospital against doctor’s advice, was completely characteristic of a man who continuously gave his all and took his responsibilities seriously.

Having known Martin I’ve no doubt that there was also a degree of deep personal regret.

For the previous decade Martin had patiently sought and successfully built relationships with his unionist and DUP counterparts. This was demonstrated in the first executive with the late Ian Paisley that in a way confounded even the most cynical and harshest of critics. Martin dedicated himself and rightly also challenged and stretched republicans and nationalists too.

His programme of reconciliation work, outreach and accommodation, and commitment alongside his political responsibilities are without question and the record more than attests to this unique quality.

There was a very modest and unassuming nature to Martin’s character that was endearing to most who met and genuinely engaged with him.

Since the dissolution of devolution and the tragedy of Martin’s passing both governments and the parties have been engaged in discussions about restoring the executive.

Rightly so the various interest groups around health, education, business and commerce have all been calling for restoration.

The collapse of the executive was precipitated by the RHI scandal, which was the final straw. But there had also been a complete failure by both the DUP and the British government to implement previous agreements around legacy and a range of other human rights measures from language rights, a bill of rights to LGBT rights.

The combined efforts of the UK government, via the SoS and NIO, and the DUP sought and continue to frustrate any advancement at addressing the legacy of the past with only superficial engagements.

Advices from the EU Commissioner on Human Rights, reports from the UN, proposals from the Lord Chief Justice, and a plethora of court rulings and commentary have all been ignored in the same way Martin McGuinness was ignored when raising these same issues.

Victims of the conflict are citizens who also want the executive restored. They too require sound structures of government for health, education, business, employment, community and social development, and general stability for themselves, their families and communities.

But they also realize that forming an executive without implementation of previous agreements around legacy is like building on a foundation of sand that will inevitably sink.

As citizens we all have a common interest in seeking to establish an executive that works in the interests of everyone and which is built on solid foundations of equality and justice. In a 2011 report on conflict, security and development the World Bank directly linked the issues of justice and security to development.

That is why we are calling on the business community, the CBI and Institute of Directors, educationalists, health campaigners, and the various interests groups, to at least be aware of each others needs and to hopefully support each other’s interests in an inclusive approach aimed at restoration.

Where we can, let us begin to build and raise collectively all areas of need. Let us explore our commonality in the realization that each other’s interest is also our own interest. That resolution to one key issue is also the key to unlocking and realizing our own objective. Let’s support each other.

An executive that works in the interests and upholds the rights of all our citizens is the only way forward and the only way to succeed.



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About Author

Mark is a founder member and the Director of Relatives for Justice. Mark is responsible for the strategic development and management of Relatives for Justice and has overseen the growth of the organisation from a successful and dedicated voluntary campaigning group to the professional advocacy and support organisation that it is today. Mark’s experience in pro-actively holding those responsible to account and in ensuring that the needs and experiences of victims of the conflict are identified and championed makes him one of the most recognisable and respected figures in the debate on how we Deal with the Past. He has make representations on families’ behalf at US Congress and the United Nations as well as to government in both Britain and Ireland.



    McGuinness and Sinn Fein / IRA used the supposed scandal of RHI [which they were aware of and supported] to pull the plug on the Executive but had there been no problem with RHI, he would have been resigning anyway due to his illness. In the same way the Provos used the death of 10 Hunger Strikers to further their cause, so they also did with McGuinness’s illness.

    • Patrick Griffiths on

      William, your comment shows a staggering level of misunderstanding of the nationalist community. It also demonstrates why it will almost be impossible to make the Assembly work. You see reds under the bed….always. we are your neighbours. If you don’t want to work with us, we will find those who do.


    So McGuinness wouldn’t have been resigning, ‘scandal’ or ‘no scandal’ due to his illness? I think it’s you who doesn’t have a clue. So best wishes on finding ‘those who do’ wish to give into to Sinn Fein/IRA’s demands. An organisation that can’t acknowledge the proper name of the area they co-governed, obviously doesn’t have the best interests of Northern Ireland at heart. You should understand, that when Republicans accept the will of the greater number who wish to remain in the UK, then we can work together, but we can’t work sucessfully with people who wish to destroy the country by stealth, after forty years of having failed to do so by murder and bombing. Sinn Fein/IRA are total hypocrites in most of what they say, but they won’t get an United Ireland however they try and you and your ilk should get used to it.

    • William Thomas Houston :

      The GFA fully supports the pursuit of a Re-United Ireland – and Unionists agreed to that.
      Nationalists will never cease to pursue a Re-United Ireland until it is achieved – you can count on that.
      There will be a Nationalist ELECTORAL majority by the mid-2020’s.

      Unionists have nothing to fear in the inevitable Re-United Ireland – your British identity is assured in the GFA.

      It’s all good William.

  3. William you are so full of bile that you really are unable to see the people around you, of all descriptions, as humans. Fortunately the likes of you, on both sides, are dying off and taking their bitterness, resentment and hatred with them. We all have our own thoughts and aspirations but hopefully we will come to a place where those thoughts and aspirations will treated with ‘mutual’ respect and understanding and where they are no longer a threat to all others. When all that was agreed is implemented we can all move forward, without the likes of you holding everyone else back. I feel deeply sorry for you William but wish you all the best no matter.


      Jean….why are Republicans who supported mass murder and bombings all appear to be right on every subject. I have no hatred / bile for decent people, but I won’t listen to Gerry ‘I was never in the IRA’ Adams and his terrorist cronies, who now masquerade as ‘democrats’, whilst stealing £26m from the Northern Bank and engaging in Electoral fraud, tell me and other British subjects what we should and shouldn’t think and do. If that’s ‘bile’ well good….If you haven’t upset someone in life, you haven’t done anything and I have little time for the terrorists in suits.

      • S A Mac Stiofain on

        Sorry William who where the repressive dictatorship/one party state who started the war. Who where the police and paramilitary police milita who started the shooting . Who where the forces who collaborated with loyalist death squads. Who where the politicans who stole the red money in political corruption from the building of motorways –
        CRAIGAVON to Redsky to RHI. Unionists a
        Have never been fit to hold public office. Take that plank out of your bigoted eye.

        • With that Irish name, you’d well to learn English and understand the difference between ‘were’ and ‘where’.

  4. William you seem to have nothing new to add. You are rattling off all the old, played out sound bites, lots of ‘you did, they did’, but nothing that is in anyway inspiring or forward thinking. We could all do what you do but tell me William, just where will that take us to? Tell me just what it is that you are offering…..just more of the same same old retiric from a time that is gone and William that time won’t come back, it’s over.

    Now, here is the part where you can play a part that will bring stability and a peace that the vast majority of us want. You can take part in the movement forward, not backward. You can become involved with mixed community groups, educate yourself about ‘the other side’, engage,make a difference. You have a voice William, let it be heard but you have to listen too William. An old Glaswegian friend of mine once said to me when I was bringing a bit full of myself and my own opinion, “have you ever wondered why you have two ears and only one mouth? Maybe it’s because you meant to listen twice as much as you talk”. A wise auld fella John was.

    I do wish you well and hope you will come out of the war zone we lived in for 30 years, I know it can be difficult for some, but what’s the alternative William?. Thirty years were awful, terrible things were done by a whole swathe of groups. Few came out of it untouched, time to move on William. Dialogue is the way forward, in fact it’s the only way forward. All the best. J

  5. Ruaidri Ua Conchobair on

    It’s unfortunate, you failed to grasp the central theme of this article and resort to those tiresome old rants of a by-gone era.
    We Irish can produce a grievance list against the British state and British Unionists/Colonialists in Ireland that stretches back centuries. Millions of Irish have been killed by the British. Let that sink in: millions!!! And long before the Provisional IRA was formed in response to yet another spate of violence against us by Unionists. Despite this, since 1998 we Irish have sought to put the past behind us and look to building a positive future.
    Martin McGuinness could have resigned and nominated Michelle O’Neill as his replacement as the DFM. However, Sinn Féin voters – your neighbours – have had enough of the supremacism and bigotry of political Unionism and their refusal to honour our past agreements.
    British occupation of Ireland was wrong. The ongoing partition of the Irish nation is a grave injustice that must be rectified. That said, in the meantime, let us honour our past agreements and work together to build a society of equals… that is the only way you’re going to see Stormont restored.

  6. Here’s a quote for you William .It’s not from a Republican but from none other than Sir Edward Carson one of the founding father’s of Unionism .It could have been written last week never mind 100 years ago “What a fool I was! I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster, and so was Ireland, in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into Power.”


      Wishful thinking that there will be a majority for a United Ireland by 2020…who’s going to pay for their prescriptions, welfare and all the other British freebies enjoyed by those who hate the British.

      • A Nationalist ELECTORAL majority in the North by the mid-2020’s is not wishful thinking – it is exactly what is on the cards with the current, irreversible, demographic trajectory.

        This has nothing to do with hate – but all to do with democracy and equality.
        You need to work off all that bile and hate William – it’s corrosive and only makes you very bitter.

        It will not – immediately – mean a Re-United Ireland but it will be a major game-changer in the North as Unionists come to terms with being the minority in the very statelet that was created to ensure a Unionist majority – forever.

        “Who’s going to pay for the welfare, etc. yakka-yakka…..”

        I, for one, do not believe that the North has to be an economic basket-case for eternity and I firmly believe within a dynamic Re-United Ireland, the North will be able to replicate the economic success as enjoyed by the Republic – in fact I have no doubt about that.
        It is very unfortunate that some Unionists such as yourself display such a lack of confidence in yourselves – here, check this out :

        “Quality-of-life Index 2013 – Economist Intelligence Unit **

        Ireland = 12th
        UK = 27th

        Enjoy. It’s all good William.

        A Re-United Ireland is inevitable.

        ** That well-known Irish Nationalist mouth-piece 🙂

        • Northern Ireland is British on

          Challenging Republicans who supported murder and bombings and now pose as ‘democrats’ is ‘bile’. It seems wrong to challenge the Republican hypocrisy and wishful thinking, so it’s me that’s wrong. Well, for a start, ‘…it will be a major game changer for the North’….I’m sure the folks in Inishowen, Donegal will be glad of TurboFurbo’s wishes, as that’s the ‘North’. If you wish to give the country it’s proper name, Northern Ireland[for the sake of your beloved ‘equality’] then I wouldn’t trust the word of a Republican, as we’ve seen how they operate at Stormont and throughout Northern Ireland. No wonder, the parties in the Republic of Ireland won’t have anything to do with them electorally….Terrorists in suits and only in politics as the terror game ended when the planes hit the Twin Towers in the US and the Yanks got a first hand view of the Terrorism we had for forty years. Northern Ireland is part of the UK and so it shall remain….Grizzly Adams and dead Marty’s wish for 2016 passed and likewise will 2116. Bye.

          • “Northern Ireland is British”

            The Good Friday Agreement expressly confirms the right of the people in the North to quote “identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both “.
            Democracy and equality are good and positive.

            Moreover, as per the Irish Constitution – and re-affirmed in the GFA – the Irish Nation encompasses all of Ireland – all 32 counties – and its islands and seas.

            Here’s Article 2 of the Constitution of Ireland for you :

            “It is the entitlement and birthright of every person born in the island of Ireland, which includes its islands and seas, to be part of the Irish Nation”.

            So, a person born in Tyrone is just as Irish as a person born in Galway, my part of the country – which is of course why James McClean,( a Derryman) for example, is an Irish citizen by virtue of being born in Ireland, has an Irish passport as his birthright and plays for the Irish National soccer team.

            You should bear in mind that Irish Re-Unification is shared by all Nationalist parties in Ireland right across the political spectrum – and is not the exclusive property of any particular political party. In fact, the current Taoiseach (Prime Minister in English) of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, is from the Fine Gael party, and he has made it clear that his party is fully supportive of a Re-United Ireland.

            For Unionists like you, of course, the GFA allows you to continue to identify yourself as British and post-Reunification, your right to continue to identify as British will be honoured. You can count on that.

            Nationalist ELECTORAL majority in the North by the mid-2020’s – and increasing with each passing year thereafter.

            A Re-United Ireland is inevitable.

            It’s all good.

          • Northern Ireland is British on

            There already is a ‘nationalist majority’ in the ‘North’…Inishowen sends two TDs as far as I know but there isn’t a Nationalist majorty in Northern Ireland, which you can’t bring yourself to write, so you promise of equality for Unionists in a ‘re-unified Ireland’ is as truthful as Gerry Grizzly Adams telling us he was never a Terrorist in the IRA. Bye.Bye…go to sleep and dream of your 2020 United Ireland…2116 will be the same as 2016…Northern Ireland still British. I now longer wish to reply to your nonsense.

  7. “Northern Ireland is British”.

    It is well noted that you failed to refute anything in my post simply because you cannot.

    In addition to a Nationalist ELECTORAL majority by the mid-2020’s in the North, there is another issue that Unionists need to take into account as articulated by this young QUB-educated lady brought up in a traditional Unionist environment – well worth a read :

    Not to mention of curse, the other HUGE elephant in the room which is that the vast majority of people in England have zero interest in Ireland or Irish politics nor do they have a clue about this country – and they will indeed be very relieved to see the day Ireland is Re-United.

    It’s all good.

    Have a good one.

  8. Remember William that there will always be an England as long as there is a USA. Britain survived with military help from America – Bundles for Britain WWII years. Your royalty still come to galas in NYC with hands out. So you’re saying that Britain is picking up social benefit tabs in NI – well some of that support is imported and we intend to see Good Friday peace agreements implemented.

    • No Surrender to IRA Terrorists on

      The Good Friday I remember is the one associated with Christ, not the one where Blair lay down and was walked out by a bunch of IRA Terrorists. As to your ‘intention to see the agreements implemented’….very good, I’m sure your have a word with Gerry and the Terrorists and get him to agree to all that he says he never signed up to. A start would be to learn that ‘the North’ is in Donegal, i.e. Inishowen and if here’s talking about the area where his dead fellow terrorist was joint leader of, then he should refer to Northern Ireland. Looking forward to your chat with the bearded one !!

  9. Why do I get the feeling that ‘No Surrender, N Ireland is British and Thomas’ are one and the same? I’m saying this because they both have the exact same hummmmmmm. They concede nothing, offer nothing. They are unfortunately products of an upbringing and mind set dating back to partition, that is gradually devouring itself. I do believe though that there are people who will come forward to speak, take part in dialogue with ALL interested parties and be responsibily for the PUL of the north in the near future. These will be people who want to get the best for their people in what will be a rapidly changing island. It has been stated many, many times that no one wants to take anything away from them and their Britishness will be honoured.

    The problem for the PUL population is that they have been used to being the ones on control, dictating, ruling, this will be a huge change for some of them, engagement and sharing is not really in their DNA. That has been the experience of the other half of the community here. The new Ireland will be about shared inclusiveness, for everyone including the PUL of the island. The 12th won’t come to an end, they can still feel as British as Finchley, if that’s what they want. They can still celebrate all the royal birthdays and anniversaries, no one is interested in taking that away from them.

    I really do hope some won’t have to be dragged kicking and screaming into this shared island. Please think about all that has been said and continues to be said to you, take part, engage with others you see as ‘different’ from you. Jean.

    • Northern Ireland is British on

      I don’t intend to engage with people who refer to Northern Ireland as the ‘North’. The North is Inishowen, which is already part of the Republic of Ireland / Eire, so good bye. When you have the manners to refer to my country by its proper name, then I might address your muddled Republican thinking.

      • It will be to your benifit to engage with people on the future of you community. If you choose not to based on how I refer to this place I’m afraid you will be very disappointed and won’t have a leg to stand on when the change does come, which it will. The Irish know it and more importantly for your people, the British know it and are eager to be rid of the north. Surely you know that? I don’t like to be flippant about such a serious matter but you really are going to have to ‘get over yourselves’. Remember the Dylan lyrics ‘and the times they are a changing’ its better for you to take part than to be left on the side of the road shouting as the world you live in moves into a better future for everyone, the choice is entirely yours but don’t blame others when all goes belly up for you. J

        • British we shall remain on

          I don’t think the British are trying to get rid of the North….they did that in 1922 but as to Northern Ireland, they’ll still be British in 2116 and years beyond. Why would we cease to be Unionists, just to placate a shower of terrorists who didn’t defeat us with murder, bombings and mayhem. They’ll not be allowed to defeat us by politics. Goodbye…I have no further time to correspond with rebels.

  10. I’ve read all of your posts. There will not be a United Ireland or an accepted Partition ( yes a possibility) by ALL of the good folks of the six counties until youse lot are all dead. So get on with it! Thanks..

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