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Sinn Féin publish All Ireland 'Rights for All' charter

26 January, 2004


Sinn Féin Chief negotiator, Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuinness MLA, Bairbre de Brún MLA, Equality and Human Rights Spokespersons, South Down MLA Caítriona Ruane (6 County) and Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD (26 County) launched the party's discussion document on an All Ireland Charter of Rights.

Speaking at the Stormont launch Mr McGuinness said:

"In just over a week the review of the Good Friday Agreement, involving all of the parties and the two governments will begin here, in Stormont. Sinn Féin will be focusing on a range of issues including, policing, demilitarisation, equality and the issue of human rights.

"Five years after the Good Friday Agreement was signed and overwhelming endorsed by the people of this island we have not seen the progress that it promised.

"Instead of full implementation of the Agreement in all its aspects, we have seen delay, foot dragging and inaction is many areas where the British government has direct responsibility. These difficulties are rooted in the British government's tactical approach to the Agreement.

"Since the Agreement we have had Weston Park and the negotiations leading to the publication of the Joint Declaration by the two governments as well as the discussion leading up to the unprecedented moves by republicans of October 21st when the two governments and unionism again failed to deliver. We have not seen the British government embrace political, economic, social, and cultural rights. They can't even bring themselves to publish the Cory report.

"If we are to see progress when the review starts next week then the British government must challenge and reconsider its own approach to the Agreement.

"Sinn Féin believe that we can come to the review in a positive frame of mind but that requires that everyone accept that many aspects of the Agreement have not been implemented. It demands in particular that the two governments and especially the British government accept their responsibility in honouring commitments on delivering the human rights and equality commitments that it has made."

Sinn Féin's Charter for 'Rights for All' discussion document covers:

  • Equal rights for all;
  • Democracy - making it representative, accountable and responsive to people's needs;
  • Actively opposing discrimination;
  • Children's rights;
  • People with disabilities reaching their potential;
  • Public Services, housing, health care and education;
  • The right to work - employment and trade union rights;
  • Natural resources and the environment;
  • Justice, the judiciary, policing and public safety;
  • Ireland's role, rights and responsibilities internationally.

Caítriona Ruane added:

"This demands action to challenge systematic and institutionalised discrimination against any section of people living on the island of Ireland. Governments have a duty to ensure that all people have equality of opportunity and equality of access and a duty to take proactive steps and affirmative actions to ensure social and economic equality.

"The British government in particular, but indeed both governments have failed to implement key actions contained within the Good Friday Agreement to deliver equality and eradicate the legacy and active discrimination in the 6 counties; they have also failed to deliver to those marginalized and excluded throughout the parts of this island that they have jurisdiction over."

Bairbre de Brún added:

"A charter of rights must guarantee, promote and protects the 'Rights for All'. Sinn Féin is also aware that we have a responsibility to build an inclusive society, which addresses the political allegiances of unionists and guarantees their rights and entitlements so that they can have a sense of security and a stake within an Ireland of Equals."

Aengus O Snodaigh concluded:

"The people of Ireland have a right to government that is democratically elected and composed of the elected representatives chosen through the universal right to vote. It also demands that all elected representatives are entitled to and accorded fair, full and effective participation in governance.

"Sinn Féin also believe that every citizen at the age of 16 is entitled to vote in all elections and to stand as a candidate for public office.

"The founding principle of the Republic proclaimed in 1916 is to cherish all of the children of the nation equally and to share in a peaceful future embodied in a united and democratic state, underpinned by indivisible common values of human dignity, equality and justice. That remains Sinn Féin's goal today." ENDS

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