Sinn Féin - On Your Side

McLaughlin challenges Murphy to public debate

10 March, 2004

Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has challenged the British Secretary of State to a public debate on the issue of paramilitarism and the politics of exclusion. Mr. McLaughlin's remarks came after Mr. Murphy once again focused his attentions on allegations being made against the IRA and the effect that this may have on Sinn Féín's role in the process, while all of the time ignoring both loyalist violence and the very obvious failure of the British and the unionists to live up to their responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"I would challenge Paul Murphy to a public debate on the issues of paramilitarism and the politics of exclusion. We tried to have this discussion within the parameters of the Review but the British government ran away from the debate and cancelled a planned plenary meeting on these important matters.

"It is ironic that on the very day that the British government claimed that unionist paramilitaries had killed 7 people, carried out 135 shootings and 41 bombings in the past 12 months Mr Murphy appeared on the media threatening the rights and entitlements of the majority of nationalist voters in the six counties. The politics of exclusion failed us in the past and they will fail again if tried in the future.

"The British government appear to be scared to have the real debate around paramilitarism and the obligations we all have regarding this under the Agreement. The British government do not want to discuss unionist paramilitary violence. They do not want to discuss the role of their agents in this violence. They do not want to discuss collusion. They do not want to discuss the ongoing paramilitary activities of the Special Branch or the British Army.

"People will not tolerate a one sided approach to this issue. Either Mr Murphy is up for the debate or he is not. So I would repeat my challenge to Mr Murphy, is he up for a open and frank debate on these issues or is he going to continue to hide behind the IMC or the constraints of the Review." ENDS

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