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British challenged over Press Briefing

22 March, 2004

Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has accused the British government of 'being in denial over their Good Friday Agreement commitments and responsibilities'. Mr. McLaughlin's remarks came after the publication of a letter sent to journalists in the USA by the British Embassy in Washington.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"In this communication to journalists in the US from the British Embassy there is an attempt to narrow the entire crisis in the peace process to the single issue of what they describe as 'republican paramilitaries'. No mention is made of ongoing unionist paramilitary violence and the letter claims that there are indications that both unionist parties, the DUP included, are ready to share power. No evidence of course exists to support this.

"The most telling part of the document is of course the omission of any responsibility for the current crisis in the peace process being laid at the door of Tony Blair or his government. Attempts to reduce the crisis in the peace process to the single issue firstly of 'paramilitarism' and now on 'republican paramilitarism' will not work.

"It is dishonest and it ignores the effect which the continuing failure of the two governments, but particularly the British government to honour pledges and commitments has on confidence in the process.

"Sinn Féin are willing to discuss in a constructive and open fashion all of the outstanding problems in the peace process. But this must be done in the round and not through pretending that only one obstacle remains." ENDS

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