Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ard Fheis 2004 - McLaughlin - Governments must deliver

28 February, 2004


Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel Mc Laughlin speaking in support of motions 81 -- 86 said:' Sinn Féin reaffirms our commitment to the full and faithful implementation of the Agreement in all its aspects and that includes the issue of arms. But Sinn Féin cannot implement its obligations in isolation while the two governments continue to renege on their obligations and continue to indulge the insatiable demands of unionism in their attempts to wreck the Agreement.'

Mr. McLaughlin said:

These motions highlight the fact that almost six years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement that we are still waiting on the two governments to deliver on crucial elements of the Agreement. Listening to the trite indignation of the British and Irish governments and Unionist spokespeople you could be forgiven for believing that it was Sinn Fein that had failed to deliver on its commitments under the Agreement.

Well let me make it clear -- and I hope that those sections of the media that run with every comment and allegation made by the likes of Michael McDowell and Hugh Orde report these facts as diligently -- Sinn Féin has delivered right down to the last comma on every commitment that we have made. Sinn Féin has carried out its obligations at all times in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Agreement. Sinn Féin has never stepped outside of the Agreement or campaigned on any issue that is not enshrined in the Agreement.

The Agreement calls for all parties to use their influence to bring about the disarmament of all armed groups. Can anyone deny that Sinn Féin is the only party to address this issue in a positive and responsible manner?

∑ How has the Ulster Unionists used its undoubted influence with Unionist Paramilitaries? By appointing a senior member of the party (David Mc Narry) to the Loyalist Commission. The children of Holy Cross school and the residents of Garvaghy Road are entitled to more than that.

∑ How has the DUP used its unquestionable influence on Ulster Resistance? Where are its arms dumps and how many has it put beyond use?

∑ What are Peter, Gregory, and Ian Paisley doing to influence those that they were happy to don the red beret with and promised to give whatever 'political cover was necessary'?

∑ What is Tony Blair doing to carry out the commitments to demilitarisation that he has made on numerous occasions?

∑ Where is Bertie Ahern's delivery of his obligations under the provisions on the release of Prisoners, northern representation and the Irish language.

Sinn Féin reaffirms our commitment to the full and faithful implementation of the Agreement in all its aspects and that includes the issue of arms. But Sinn Féin cannot implement its obligations in isolation while the two governments continue to renege on their obligations and continue to indulge the insatiable demands of unionism in their attempts to wreck the Agreement. The patience of the republican and nationalist community is being continually dissipated.

Last October we had an agreement between Sinn Féin, the UUP and the two governments that would have moved the process forward substantially. It was signed off on by all four parties. All parties knew and had sight of what the others had agreed to do. Sinn Féin stood up to the mark and our Party President; Gerry Adams made a keynote speech that was acknowledged as significant. The IRA issued a statement saying that Gerry Adams' speech reflected accurately its commitment to the process. It followed this statement up with a third act of putting beyond use what General de Chastelaine described as a substantial tranche of weaponry and explosive material.

Enter David Trimble declaring that he was now putting the sequence on hold. Some people were charitable and said that he must have come under pressure from hardliners in the party. Others having observed his antics in the past believed that this was the way he had planned it all along. Whatever the truth of the situation it did not excuse the two governments in reneging on their parts in the sequencing as agreed. Once again the only party that delivered on its word was Sinn Féin. I call on the two governments to now do the honourable thing and deliver on the joint declaration.

The imposition of the International Monitoring Commission, which is outside of the Agreement, was introduced solely to placate rejectionist unionism.

This is not the only area where the British government has acted outside the Agreement with the full connivance of the Irish government. It has unilaterally taken powers on itself to suspend the political institutions, postpone and cancel elections and introduce draconian legislation that inhibits, discourages and removes electors from the electoral register. These are all breaches of the Agreement by the British government and must be rescinded.

This Ard Fheis is correct to remind the Irish government that the Agreement is an international agreement between two sovereign governments and it must act and be seen to act as a co-equal partner in that Treaty. To date it appears to act as a junior partner subservient to the whims of a British government. The Agreement was endorsed in referenda on this island and involved constitutional change in the expectation that the Agreement would be implemented in all its aspects without undue delay.

In supporting these motions (81 -- 86) we therefore call on the Irish government to fulfil its constitutional responsibilities and robustly defend the rights and entitlements of all Irish citizens on this island and to resist the demands of rejectionists.

Connect with Sinn Féin