McGUINNESS INVITATO IN SUD AFRICA PER RICORDARE MANDELA
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will attend a public memorial service in South Africa to mark the passing of the anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, it has been confirmed.
He will join tens of thousands of South Africans paying tribute to the first black President of their country in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Later in the week, Sinn Féin’s president Gerry Adams will also travel to South Africa to mark the passing of Mr Mandela, who died last week at the age of 95.
He cannot attend the public service due to prior commitments.
The Louth TD has been invited by the ANC party to attend a special memorial service on Saturday, which will take place at the Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria.
Mr Adams said: “We in Sinn Féin are very proud of the decades old relationship we have with our friends in the ANC. It is a great honour to be asked by the ANC to attend their service of remembrance on Saturday where they will bid Madiba farewell.”
On Sunday, Mr Mandela’s funeral and burial will take place in his home village of Qunu.
Meanwhile the death of Nelson Mandela has been discussed by the Assembly.
Mr McGuinness said: “This was a man who was an incredible supporter of our peace process, and I will be very honoured to represent our Executive and this Assembly at tomorrow’s memorial in South Africa, as is my intention.”
He was a freedom fighter, a peacemaker and a reconciler.
Gregory Campbell of the DUP said: “I had the pleasure of meeting Nelson Mandela on several occasions, and, on a personal level, he was exceptionally friendly, charismatic and helpful as a facilitator, as were all of those whom he put at our disposal.
“There are some people in Northern Ireland who attempt to equate the issues in South Africa of the past with NI of the past. Of course, there has been no comparison whatsoever. People in Northern Ireland had a vote. The black population in South Africa had no vote.”
SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said: “Nelson Mandela will long be remembered as one of the world’s greatest statesmen, and he fully deserves that honour.
“His enduring legacy will be one of hope, even in the most difficult of circumstances, and we should all unite around that sentiment.
Danny Kinahan of the UUP said: “Let us all consider how much better we could conduct ourselves, and let there be national conciliation with no rewriting of history but with generosity and forgiveness. Let us work at the consensus that we envisaged.”
Justice Minister David Ford, of Alliance, said: “On behalf of my party colleagues, I send our sympathy to the people of South Africa and, most particularly, to the family and friends of the man they called Madiba.”
TUV leader Jim Allister said: “Nelson Mandela was blessed with a very long life that was drawn to a close by natural causes, something that cannot be said about the many victims of his ANC or about the many victims of the IRA that his ANC so avidly supported.
“That is a perspective and reality that needs to be spoken and remembered, particularly given the uncritical tsunami of hysteria that there has been following the death of Nelson Mandela.”
David McNarry of UKIP said: “To Mandela, I say this on behalf of UKIP: may he rest in peace. To Martin McGuinness, who has since left the Chamber, I say this: you do not represent me. Mr Speaker, I do not want him representing me at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.”