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McGuinness - progress made in talks but more to do

16 March, 2003

Speaking from the St. Patrick's Day Parade in San Francisco where he was joined by the Grand Marshal, Mayor Willie Brown, Sinn Féin Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness MP commenting on the peace process said that while progress has been made in the current negotiations substantive gaps do remain on important issues.

" In the current phase of negotiations we have made substantial progress across all of the issues, including:-

  • New Legislation on Criminal Justice
  • Demilitarisation
  • Equality
  • Human Rights
  • Irish Language Rights

" However substantive gaps do remain on important issues. Discussions are continuing with the two governments and the other parties in a sustained effort to close these gaps. This is very much work in progress.

" But one point of serious concern centers on the Unionist demand for sanctions which are clearly outside the terms of the Agreement and which are clearly aimed at Sinn Féin.

" Sinn Féin's participation in the political institutions is by virtue of our electoral mandate. We have a right to represent our voters and our voters have a right to be represented by us. None of this can be subject to the whims of David Trimble.

" Either there is a democratic imperative to the peace process or there is not. Sinn Féin believe that the mandates of all the parties and the electoral rights of all citizens must be respected and upheld. There can be no half way house. The Good Friday Agreement must be upheld in full." ENDS

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