Sinn Féin sets out Review Agenda
Speaking at the publication of Sinn Féin's agenda for the paragraph 8 review of the Good Friday Agreement due to start next Tuesday, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA has said that the Review will not be a renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement but it is an opportunity to accelerate the process of change promised in the Agreement.
Mr Adams said:
"The purpose of the Review is to identify how best to deliver the full implementation of the Agreement. This requires a focus on the failure of the British government to deliver on key commitments on policing, demilitarisation, equality and the issue of human rights.
"Sinn Féin will approach this review positively. The other pro-Agreement parties and the two governments must also take a positive and constructive approach. The future of the Good Friday Agreement demands this.
"The Good Friday Agreement committed the participants to the achievement of reconciliation, tolerance and trust and the vindication of the human rights of all. We collectively committed ourselves to partnership, equality and mutual respect.
"To be effective the review must defend and accelerate the process of change promised in the Good Friday Agreement"
Outlining Sinn Féin's Agenda for the Full Implementation of the Agreement, Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA and Six County EU candidate Bairbre de Brún said that the party had focused on four key areas - Stability of the Institutions; Equality and Human Rights; Expansion of All Ireland Commitments; and Demilitarisation, policing and justice.
Ms de Brún added:
"The Review will not be a renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement but it is an opportunity to accelerate the process of change promised in the Agreement. This demands action across a range of areas including the stability of the political institutions; human rights and equality; expansion of the All Ireland commitments; and demilitarisation, policing and justice." ENDS
Agenda for full implementation of the Agreement
- Stability of the institutions
- Re-endorsement of the Agreement by all participants.
- Border Poll - Sinn Féin will be seeking firm commitments on a date for a simultaneous poll on Irish unity, north and south.
- Suspension legislation - the political institutions must be restored and the NI Act 2000 that gives powers of suspension to the British government repealed.
- International Monitoring Commission - the International Monitoring Commission is outside the terms of the Agreement. The IMC should be abolished and the legislation, which established it, repealed.
- Safeguards - the review must protect the safeguards built into the review to guarantee inclusivity and the protection of the rights and interests of all sides of the community.
- North South Ministerial Council - participation in the North South Ministerial Council is an essential right and responsibility of relevant Ministers in the Executive. This cannot be subject to veto.
- Ministerial Pledge of Office - breaches of Ministerial Office should be subject to sanction within the terms of the Agreement.
Equality and Human Rights
- Equality - full implementation of the Equality Agenda to create an equality based society across the island.
- Equality duty: Section 75 - to agree the basis for the forthcoming review of the operation of section 75 and identify other bodies that should be subject to the S75 duty.
- Single Equality Bill - enactment and implementation of the Single Equality Bill. The review should also address the issue of discrimination on grounds of Œnational security‚ and the nationality requirement for civil service jobs.
- Human Rights - full implementation of the Human Rights Agenda to create a human rights based society across the island.
- The Human Rights Commission - the Commission should be reconstructed to address, particularly, the issues of composition, independence and powers.
- Bill of Rights - a round table forum, with an international chair, involving the political parties and civic society to take forward the development of the Bill of Rights.
- All Ireland Charter of Rights - the development of an all-Ireland Charter of Rights.
- Victims and Reconciliation - address the suffering of the victims of the conflict as a necessary element of reconciliation. An approach to victims based on parity of esteem rather than a hierarchy of victims.
- Addressing outstanding issues in relation to prisoners.
- Collusion, state and state-sponsored violence - full disclosure on the policy of collusion including publication of the Cory Report and establishment of effective independent inquiries.
- Irish Language - full implementation of the commitment to recognise and promote the use of the Irish language, including a comprehensive Irish Language Act to formally give recognition to the Irish language and the appointment of an Irish Language Commissioner.
- Flags, symbols and emblems - participants to the Agreement acknowledged that symbols and emblems should be used in a manner, which promotes mutual respect rather than division. This requires the repeal of the Flags (NI) Order 2000 and the Flags regulations (NI) 2000 and the development of a Code of Practice to govern the use of symbols and emblems.
Expansion of the All Ireland commitments
- Expansion of All Ireland areas of co-operation and implementation bodies - the review is an opportunity to identify additional areas for co-operation and implementation.
- Establishment of the All Ireland Inter-Parliamentary Forum.
- Establishment of the All Ireland Consultative Forum.
- Demilitarisation, policing and justice
- The Issue of Arms - all parties must use their influence to resolve the issue of arms, in the context of the implementation of the Agreement. In addition, the proliferation of legally held arms needs also to be addressed.
- Demilitarisation - a comprehensive programme of demilitarisation, including the withdrawal of all British soldiers from the north; the removal of military installations; the removal of emergency legislation, and other measures appropriate to and compatible with a normal peaceful society.
- Policing - the full implementation of the Patten recommendations along with the withdrawal from use of plastic baton rounds; an independent complaints mechanism to investigate instances of use of plastic baton rounds by the British Army and additional resources for the Ombudsman to expedite the investigation of retrospective complaints.
- Criminal Justice Review - new Criminal Justice provisions; the overhaul of the Inquest system (post Home Office Review); measures to address the issue of symbols and emblems on the basis of parity of esteem; and the need to promote mutual respect rather than division and the repeal of repressive legislation.
- Transfer of powers on policing and justice.