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Unrealistic demands of DUP must not paralyse progress: Mitchel McLaughlin

16 November, 2004


Speaking to Journalists in London today Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA said:

"It has been acknowledged by both governments that at the Leeds Castle talks and in our efforts since that Republicans are serious about achieving agreement. Both governments have stated on a number of occasions that the offer on the table from Republicans meets the requirements for a resolution to the arms issue.

"It has been accepted by the British and Irish governments that it is the "unrealistic demands" of the DUP that is creating the obstacle to re-establishing the political institutions.

"Therefore given that the two governments have identified where the problem lies it is incumbent on them to make public what they believe those "unrealistic demands" are and how they intend to move the process on if the DUP persists in these demands.

"Over the past number of weeks Sinn Féin has put forward our ideas on the direction in which the governments should proceed.

"Rather than accept a refusal by the DUP to buy into the Agreement, the two governments should recognise an opportunity to demonstrate to unionist and other sceptics not only that power sharing is the essential option but it is indispensable to the delivery of a stable political and economic future on this island.

"Republicans and nationalists must also have a sense of ownership of this process and unilateral British Direct Rule cannot deliver that requirement. The Irish government therefore must assert its position as a co-equal partner with the British government in whatever decisions are taken to move the process forward if agreement between the parties isn't possible. It is only through such joint government action that rejectionists will hear the wake-up call.

"I believe that it is now time for the governments to accept that the DUP is not psychologically ready to share power with the pro-Agreement parties. In the absence of an agreed Executive, An Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister must signal their willingness to deliver the full potential of the Agreement to the people through a power sharing arrangement between the two governments. Then in the event of continued refusal by the DUP to engage in the political process the Assembly should be dissolved and the parties should return to the electorate for a new mandate"

MECHANISMS FOR TWO GOVERNMENT POWER SHARING

"There are a number of different mechanisms that could create the basis from which both Governments could implement an agreed governmental power sharing agenda in keeping with the spirit of the GFA.

"Probably the easiest and best mechanism would be for both Governments to commit to produce a Power Sharing Programme for Government in the absence of one party refusing to participate in a power-sharing Executive.

"The Power Sharing Arrangement should focus on the following elements:

(a) Human Rights and Equality

(b) Review of the Human Rights and Equality Commissions

(c) Establishment of an all-Ireland Joint Parliamentary Forum consisting of MP‚s MLA‚s and TD‚s that would oversee the Power Sharing arrangement.

(d) A review of the Areas of Cooperation, the role of Implementation bodies and expansion of their number and remit to all areas of mutual benefit.

(e) The establishment of a Joint Committee of the two Human Rights Commissions, North and South

(f) The establishment of an all-Ireland Charter of Human Rights (as per the GFA)

(g) Reconciliation and Truth Recovery Programme

(h) Programme of Demilitarisation

(i) Implementation of all areas of Common Chapter. Identifying Timetables and Frameworks

"The two Governments acting in a Power Sharing capacity must employ their respective powers, as laid down in the GFA, to promote in all possible ways, democratic government and an end to discrimination in all its manifestations. It is the responsibility of both governments as custodians of the Agreement to jointly advance the best interests of all the people of the island and by so doing to foster the people‚s desire for democratic government throughout the Island of Ireland. If the process of developing democratic government cannot be advanced at this time through the elected Assembly, then the two governments must move forward together in demonstrating the beneficial nature of power-sharing. Together they must pro-actively develop the institutions upon which the GFA built the hopes of the people of Ireland for the creation of democratic, human rights based government." ENDS

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