Sinn Féin - On Your Side

McDonnell challenged over Agreement comments

16 August, 2005

Sinn Féin MP for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy today reminded the SDLP Deputy Leader Alaisdair McDonnell that it is Sinn Féin who are the largest pro-Agreement party and it is Sinn Féin who have defended that Agreement in negotiations with the rejectionist DUP. Mr Murphy's remarks come after Mr McDonnell bizarrely challenged Sinn Féin to say whether or not they would uphold the Agreement in any future talks.

Mr Murphy said: "Mr McDonnell seems to forget that Sinn Fein are the largest pro-Agreement party and have taken the lead in defending the Agreement in negotiations long after the SDLP has left the table or in some cases not arrived at all.

"In the negotiations last December the SDLP sniped from the sidelines as Sinn Féin defended the rights of nationalists, the equality agenda and all-Ireland architecture against the objective of the DUP to achieve a veto over such areas.

"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.

Mark Durkan negotiated the reform and re-investment initiative which introduced water charges - the SDLP then 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 new devices unleashed upon nationalists in Ardoyne in July.

The SDLP claim to oppose repressive legislation in public - yet in Westminster voted with the DUP and Tories in support of even more repressive and restrictive powers.

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 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 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.

"Given the reality of the above facts the question posed by Mr McDonnell about defending or supporting the Agreement in future talks would of course be best addressed by his own negotiating team." ENDS

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