Nenagh’s Sinn Fein councillor Seamus Morris has described his party’s presidential candidate Martin McGuinness as a “man of character” who is “respected around the world”.
Cllr Morris told the Tipperary Star that he was hoping the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister will make it to Nenagh next Monday for the presidential debate in Nenagh Arts Centre. The debate takes place at 8pm and tickets, E5, can be had from the Arts Centre.
He said that North Tipperary was going to be a “very important battleground” for Mr McGuinness.
“The people I’ve spoken to around the area are hugely excited about the entry of Martin McGuinness into the presidential race. People see him as a man of true substance. He is very popular, even more popular within the party than Gerry Adams,” said the former Mayor of Nenagh.
Asked if Mr McGuinness’s Republican background might go against him, Cllr Morris said that “the only people who will be put out by Mr McGuinness contesting the race for the Park will be the West Brits in Fine Gael”.
“I’m proud of his background. Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln took the same path into politics.
“Martin McGuinness is a man of principle. He is not afraid to stand up for his principles, as he stood up for Northern nationalists.
“He saw the futility of a long war and got on the road to peace. It was a long and arduous road,” he said.
Following controversy earlier this year when Cllr Morris opposed Queen Elizabeth’s visit, what did he make of Mr McGuinness’s comments that he would have no problem meeting Britain’s monarch.
“I have no problem with people meeting the Queen. The Queen played a blinder when she was in Ireland and looked to be happy to be here. Michael Browne (the late Cashel Mayor who shook the Queen’s hand when she visited Tipperary), probably broke the ground for us,” he said.
Referring to a motion from Fine Gael’s Cllr Conor Delaney that was before Nenagh Town Council earlier this year that Nenagh should invite the Queen to the town, Cllr Morris, who was Mayor at the time said: “That motion was brought as an attempt to rub my nose in it.”