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Irish Government must be proponent of Irish Unity - Ó Caoláin

11 April, 2004

Speaking at Easter ceremonies in Ballinasloe and Galway City on Easter Sunday, Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the Irish Government must be a proponent of Irish Unity and must challenge the British government in its breaches of the Good Friday Agreement. He was also critical of the role of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"Serious questions must be asked of the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowen for allowing PD Minister McDowell to take such a leading role in determining Irish Government policy in the peace process. When his electoral play-acting is over the serious work of the peace process will have to continue.

"Sinn Féin will not be distracted by any of this. We are committed to the Good Friday Agreement and to its full implementation. We recognise what has been achieved so far and what has yet to be achieved. We take our responsibility very seriously and we stand on our record of achievement. We have delivered and we continue to deliver.

"Sinn Féin does not seek a slap on the back for our role in bringing about a new direction for republicanism, including the IRA cessations since 1994. That was not our role alone. What we do seek is a continued commitment from the Irish Government to the process of change, which made that new direction possible.

"For its part the British Government has failed to deliver on demilitarisation, equality and human rights, policing, the repeal of repressive legislation, collusion and the Irish language. This is the government, which insulted the survivors and the bereaved of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings with its dismissive response to the investigation of Judge Barron. A weak-kneed approach to the British Government from the Irish Government is not acceptable. If a partnership is required to deliver the Good Friday Agreement it must be a real partnership, a partnership of equals. It is time to remind the Taoiseach that his primary role is as a leader of Irish nationalism and a proponent of Irish Unity as mandated by the Irish Constitution.

"The British Government's repeated suspension of the institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement is a violation of an international treaty. The Taoiseach must remind the British Prime Minister that people in the 26 Counties voted for the Agreement and for significant constitutional change on the basis that the Agreement would be implemented in all its aspects and, in particular, that all-Ireland institutions would be established as working institutions. The Irish Government has been silent too long in the British Government's violation of the Agreement."ENDS

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