Necessary work has not been done
Sinn Féin Chairperson, Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin speaking at a press conference in Belfast along with other members of the Sinn Féin talks team including Conor Murphy, Caitriona Ruane and Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew ahead of the departure of the talks team to Leeds Castle in Kent has said that 'as we prepare to fly to England, the work that needed to be done has not been done.'
Mr McLaughlin said:
"In June Gerry Adams set out the Sinn Féin objective for tomorrows talks at Leeds Castle; a comprehensive, holistic agreement which conclusively deals with all of the outstanding issues.
"Finding such an agreement has been our singular focus in weeks of intense discussion between Sinn Féin and the two governments.
"Sinn Fein has expressed privately and publicly our preparedness to face up to the challenges that this major undertaking presents. But the two governments and the DUP also need to face up to the challenges if we are to have a successful outcome.
"Sinn Féin has repeatedly said that if Leeds Castle is to have any hope of success that closure was needed, in our recent discussions with the governments, on many of the key outstanding issues. In our view, as we prepare to fly to England, the work that needed to be done has not been done.
"For example, the British government is still refusing to agree an independent, judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, and the DUP have not even met with Sinn Fein - and are unlikely to do so in the next few days. We are concerned that the governments may be tempted to make significant concessions to the DUP's anti-Agreement agenda and, in particular, their attempts to undermine the core principle of power-sharing and the all-Ireland architecture of the Agreement. This is unacceptable.
"We are also working against a back-ground of persistent anti-peace process activities on the part of securocrats and the NIO.
"Despite these very deep worries Sinn Féin travels to Leeds Castle to do our best to find agreement. There are enormous gaps that have to be bridged by the two governments and the DUP, but in particular the British government. That is the challenge they must face up to over the coming days." ENDS
Note to Editors
Details of talks team drawn from across Ireland
President Gerry Adams MP
Vice President Pat Doherty MP
Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP
Co-ordinator Michelle Gildernew MP
National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA
Leinster House group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD
Assembly group leader Conor Murphy MLA
Policing Gerry Kelly MLA
Human Rights & Equality Caitriona Ruane MLA
Alex Maskey MLA
Martin Ferris TD
Mary Lou McDonald MEP