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Blair Remarks Challenged by McLaughlin

16 January, 2004

Sinn Fein National party Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin speaking in Waterford today where he was joined by Munster EU candidate David Cullinanethis morning said:

"The British Prime Minister‚s comments on Thursday appear to confirm the fears expressed by Gerry Adams that the British government is intent on breaking its commitments in the Joint Declaration and the Good Friday Agreement.

The reality is that on October 21st last year the British government was party to an agreed sequence of events that would have seen a functioning Executive quickly established.

Sinn Fein, the British and Irish governments and the Ulster unionists had, after negotiations, agreed and exchanged in advance what were to be our respective public positions.

Only Sinn Féin and the IRA upheld their parts of the agreed sequence.

The positions agreed by others were then put on hold by the decision of Mr. Trimble.

The UUP walked away from that agreement. Because of that the British are now asking more of republicans. This is blatant bad faith.

It is quite evident that the British government has once again shifted the goal posts, and to the applause of rejectionist unionism.

All of this seriously erodes what little confidence and trust there is in the process. It makes resolving the current difficulties much more problematic.

"Mr. Blair seeks to disingenuously place the onus for progress solely on unionists and republicans. However, hard he tries he cannot absolve himself or his government from the current mess.

It is British government strategy and its tactical approach to the implementation of the Agreement, which has encouraged rejectionist unionism. Whatever responsibilities rest with Sinn Fein and the unionists the primary responsibility at this time rests on the two governments but particularly the British government.

It is intolerable that the British government has failed to fulfill their obligations. Progress is dependent on this. Confidence and trust is dependent on this." ENDS

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