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SDLP have fundamentally departed from Good Friday Agreement

16 January, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has said that weekend remarks by senior SDLP members Eddie McGrady and Alaister McDonnell indicating support for the DUP exclusion model of voluntary coalition showed clearly that the SDLP had departed fundamentally from the politics of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr McLaughlin said:

" The Good Friday Agreement was based upon respect for democratic mandates and on the principle of inclusivity. The DUP has always been hostile to these principles and to the Agreement itself. That is why they proposed the notion of a voluntary coalition excluding the majority of nationalist opinion from the process.

" This idea runs completely contrary to the Good Friday Agreement and was rejected outright in the negotiations which took place late last year. It is ironic that the SDLP who at that time criticised aspects of the December proposals have now decided to abandon the Good Friday Agreement entirely and instead breathe life into the failed DUP agenda of exclusion and discrimination. This is a fundamental departure from the politics of the Good Friday Agreement and the politics of conflict resolution.

" Nationalists will be dismayed at this change in the SDLP approach and will note the warm welcome which the weekend words of Eddie McGrady and Alaister McDonnell have received from Ian Paisley. Nationalist opinion has consistently lined up with the peace process and with the Good Friday Agreement. That remains the focus of Sinn Féin. We will continue to fight for the Agreement and we will not abandon the principles which underpin it for the failed rejectionist agenda offered by the DUPs so called voluntary coalition." ENDS

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