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Martin McGuinness told us why he'll be a TD one day

But only in a united Ireland.

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Well, ultimately, whenever Ireland is united I will be a member of the Dáil, but until that I have to continue my work as an elected politician in the North.

SO CLINICAL AND matter-of-fact is Martin McGuinness when asked if he’d ever like to be a TD that you’d almost believe it’s only a matter of time before he is sitting alongside Gerry Adams in Leinster House.

Such a thought might send chills down the spines of Sinn Féin’s detractors but it is, after all, the party’s raison d’être.

That said, you do not get an overwhelming sense of urgency from the North’s Deputy First Minister when asked if there will be a united Ireland in his lifetime.

“Well, I am working for that,” he told TheJournal.ie this week. “I don’t know how long I am going to live, but I don’t be fixated by dates.”

Source: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie

For McGuinness, the priority right now is the North and “remaining faithful” to the various power-sharing agreements hammered out in recent years.

This includes the most recent Fresh Start document that took 10, painstaking weeks to negotiate before a deal was struck earlier this year.

Such deals with the DUP and others would have been “unimaginable” not so long ago, the Sinn Féin MLA insists.

These agreements, from everything he says in our interview earlier this week, remain the priority but that doesn’t mean he will forget the ultimate aim:

I am working to remain faithful to those agreements. [But] for us in Sinn Féin it’s quite legitimate for us to make the case that socially, politically and economically the island of Ireland would be much more prosperous and normal for all of us if we are united.

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While McGuinness continues his work in the North, polls show Sinn Féin on the rise in the south.

Granted, the party is not at the level of support it was last year when it had a tremendous local and European elections. But it is almost certain to increase its number of Dáil seats next year. McGuinness believes this is because an increasing number of people are “attracted to our politics”.

I put it down to what I think was the big decision that was made in republicanism, within the party effectively, when Gerry Adams moved from his West Belfast constituency to Louth [and] came top of the poll.

McGuinness name-checks Mary Lou McDonald, Pearse Doherty, Padraig MacLochlainn and Peadar Tóibín as some of the party’s best performers in the Dáil, but joining them in the Oireachtas is not on his agenda.

7/2/2014. Sinn Fein Ard Fheis Mary Lou McDonald Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

“I think the political institutions in the North, given all that we have been through in recent time… I mean just a few months ago they were on the precipice and ready to drop off the cliff and we’ve saved that,” he said.

If not the Dáil in the immediate future, what about succeeding Gerry Adams, or running for the presidency again?

He rules one of these out completely, but leaves the door open for the other:

Source: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie

WATCH: ‘I’ve never tried to pull the wool over people’s eyes about my history’

WATCH: Martin McGuinness told us why he can get on with just about anybody

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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