Sinn Féin - On Your Side

SDLP in no position to lecture Sinn Fein over defence of Agreement

10 December, 2004

Sinn Féin Assembly Group leader, Newry Armagh MLA Conor Murphy has said that the SDLP is absolutely no position to lecture Sinn Fein over defending the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Murphy said:

"Sinn Fein stands over our record in defence of the agreement, particularly against the desire of the DUP to insert a veto into the workings of the institutions and attempts to undermine the joint and equal nature of the First and Deputy First Minster.

"While the SDLP have been unhelpfully snipping from the sidelines Sinn Féin have been defending the rights of nationalists, the equality agenda and all-Irealnd architecture against the objective of the DUP to achieve such a veto.

"The reality is that unionists and the British government have already contrived to bring the institutions down 4 times. In that regard the commitment to remove suspension legislation is significant progress in strengthening the agreement although it is impossible to legislate for any unionist threats to walk away from the institutions.

"The SDLP is in no position to lecture Sinn Fein about the defence of the Agreement. The approach of the SDLP approach to a relatively small number of key issues demonstrates that they are increasingly directionless.

Mark Durkan negotiated the reform and re-investment initiative which introduced water charges - now the SDLP have launched a campaign against water charging.

The SDLP claim to oppose plastic bullets in public - in the privacy of the Policing Board they rubber stamped the purchase of tens of thousands of them.

The SDLP claim to oppose repressive legislation in public - yet in Westminster Eddie McGrady voted with the DUP and Tories in support of even more repressive and restrictive powers. Powers condemned by a variety of human rights and civil liberties groups.

The SDLP claim to support the political institutions yet have proposed that the British government appoint ten hand picked mandarins to administer the local departments.

The SDLP support fully the work of the IMC a body established at the demand of unionism to try and exclude republicans from the political process.

The SDLP acquiesced to the British government suspension legislation.

The SDLP supported wholeheartedly in Westminster the introduction of the new Electoral Registration requirements which resulted in the disenfranchisement of over 200,000 people. When Sinn Féin forced the British government to change the rules, the SDLP publicly claimed to be opposed to the regulations all the time.

At Weston Park a senior SDLP negotiator stated that the issue of demiltarisation was solely for Sinn Féin and the British government to resolve - when it became clear that Sinn Féin were making progress on this issue in the latest talks the SDLP suddenly claimed that this issue has been a priority all along.

On the crucial issue of Policing the SDLP in Westminster first supported the Mandelson Bill, then abstained and finally opposed the Mandelson Bill in the three parliamentary sittings.

The SDLP stated that they would not join the Policing Board without an inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.

"Now they are also supporting the DUP demand that humiliation, a concept entirely contrary to any peace process and the Good Friday Agreement, should become part a comprehensive deal to move us forward." ENDS

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