Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said reiterated his willingness to talk to dissident republicans to ensure the Peace Peace stays on course.
Mr McGuinness was speaking at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Co Wexford last night at which he called on those carrying out “militarist actions” to “stop their actions immediately.”
Mr McGuinness said: “I have never hidden or ran away from confronting those who seek through violence to undermine the progress we have made.
“I will continue to stand foursquare for the peace process, for the political institutions and for the rights of all citizens regardless of who they are or where they come from, to live free from sectarian harassment or violence.
“I stand against those elements, who wish to drag us back to the past, regardless of where they come from. I make no apology for that. They will not succeed.
“As part of our defence of the Peace Process I have been rightly critical of the actions of so called dissident groups.
“In recent weeks I have followed closely a developing debate amongst elements within those factions about moving away from armed actions.”
Mr McGuinness said Sinn Fein believed that support for a united Ireland must be built through “engagement, persuasion and agreement”throughout Irish society.
He added: This can only happen through peaceful and democratic means.
“We have said for a long time that dialogue with other republicans and across all strands of national and democratic opinion is an essential part of that engagement.
“Militarist actions by a few small groups will only set back the progress being made towards a united Ireland.
“They should stop their activities immediately. The growing public expression among some anti peace process republicans against armed actions is to be welcomed.
“I have been strongly of the opinion that political leaders must engage in dialogue with everyone, including those in groups involved in violence.
“Indeed, in recent times, I have met with anti peace process elements, both republican and loyalist, to argue for an end to their activity.
“I restate our willingness to engage with these groups and without pre conditions.”