Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Irish Government Strongly Challenged Over Attitude To IMC

5 February, 2005

Senior Sinn Féin negotiator Gerry Kelly today addressed delegates at the Sinn Féin Six County AGM in the Republican centre in Gulladuff, South Derry. Mr Kelly told the large audience of party activists that 'given the Irish government's stated opposition to sanctions their approach to the latest IMC report was an acid test of their role as a co-equal partner with the British in managing the peace process'.

Mr Kelly said:

"The British government at the behest of David Trimble formed the IMC with the sole purpose of being used to sanction and eventually exclude Sinn Féin from the political process. It was formed as a mechanism to try to stop the increasing growth of Sinn Féin across the island and to treat the Sinn Féin electorate differently from those who vote for all other parties. This philosophy is clearly undemocratic in nature and flies in the face of the core principles of the peace process - inclusivity, engagement and respect for democratic mandates.

"It was a serious error for the Irish government to support the establishment of this body and to nominate a member to it. The decision of the SDLP to acquiesce to the establishment and function of the IMC also displayed a lack of political judgement.

"In its short lifespan the IMC has already been used by the British government to sanction the Sinn Fein electorate. This sanction was imposed after the IMC reproduced allegations from spooks, spies and securocrats alleging IRA, a completely separate organisation from Sinn Féin, involvement in a series of events. Credible evidence or impartial sources are not a requirement of the IMC. It operates outside the norms of the basic legal process and removes the requirement for proof or natural justice.

"It has proven to be the vehicle which the securocrats, fundamentally opposed to the process of change, have been longing for since the start of this process.

"The Irish government has recently stated clearly that they oppose sanctions. This is a noble sentiment. However given the history of the Irish government's involvement in establishing and maintaining the IMC nationalists and republicans are justifiably sceptical of this claim.

"The Irish government have a responsibility to defend the rights of Irish citizens living in the British occupied part of this country.

"If the Irish government are genuinely opposed to sanctions against the Sinn Fein electorate then they need to stop them happening and they need to undo the current sanctions imposed against our party. The Irish government are supposed to be co-equal partners with the British in the management of this process. This is an acid test of that status. So far on a number of key issues including suspension and the cancellation of elections the Irish government have rolled over. They cannot let this happen again and at the same time maintain credibly that they are not allowing the British system to dictate the pace of the peace process.

"Indeed if the Irish government position is now opposition to the concept of sanctions then much of the raison d'etre for the very existence of the IMC itself is removed.

"If the next IMC report again demands further sanctions against the Sinn Fein electorate, are the Irish government going to remove their appointed representative from it and repeal the legislation they passed giving rise to it. This is the only option available to them if their opposition to discrimination and sanctions is to be anything more than talk and their position as a co-equal partner in the overall peace process is not to be totally undermined." ENDS

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