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We Need To Talk About Martin
His entry into the Presidential race came as a bombshell, throwing many political commentators, as well as the Fine Gael party, into a tailspin. It has also been the catalyst to a surge in support in the opinion polls for Sinn Féin. So who is Martin McGuinness? What is he like as a man? And can a self-confessed former IRA leader convince the Irish peope that he has what it takes to be the President?
Olaf Tyaransen, 21 Oct 2011
Why did you decide to do it?
Because I do passionately believe that Ireland needs leadership at this time. I think that the country has experienced a shameful period of selfishness and greed,which has seen the economy driven into the ground. I can't believe some of the wages that people are being paid, the huge wages, the huge bonuses, the huge pensions, including politicians, when they’re walking away from their jobs. I think it's absolutely disgusting. I want to stand with those people who suffered as a result of the unpatriotic decisions that were taken by speculators, bankers and politicians over recent times. Various people have always inspired me anyway, and I would hope that I have inspired people through my work with others in building the peace process in the North and unifying people, not just in the North but all over the island behind what is clearly seen as a hugely successful peace process. So it's about stepping forward and showing people that you are prepared to come down to their level, to the level of ordinary people who are suffering and finding it hard to put food on the table for their children.
You’ve declared that you’ll do the job for the average industrial wage.
No. The media are running with this business of 'the average industrial wage'… it's actually the average wage, which is less than the average industrial. As deputy First Minister in the North, I earned something like £112,000 a year for the last five years, and it didn't go into my account, it went straight into Sinn Fein's account. I was paid a subsistence of just over £300 a week, and the person who drove me to work in Belfast for the last five years got exactly the same wage as I got. That's why I made it clear that I am prepared to do the job for the average wage and I am prepared to see the vast bulk of the presidential salary go back to the people of Ireland. One of the issues that I have asked the campaign team to explore, if I am honoured by the people of Ireland to be their President, could we bring six unemployed young people off the dole queues and pay them out of that salary? Those are the sort of ideas that we're exploring at the moment.