Sinn Féin - On Your Side

de Brún asks MEPs to raise the issue of recent violence with UUP and DUP

15 September, 2005


Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today sent an open letter to all 732 MEPs elected to the European Parliament asking them to contact the leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party and Democratic Unionist Party, to voice their concern at last weekend's violence and to encourage them to sit down and engage with Irish republicans on the way forward.

Speaking from Brussels Ms de Brún said:

"Sinn Féin in Europe has undertaken an initiative to inform all 732 MEPs in the European Parliament about the current political situation in the North of Ireland and the orchestrated Orange Order and unionist paramilitary violence of the past week, and throughout the summer months.

"Inflammatory statements by senior unionist politicians, including the leader of the DUP, Ian Paisley, a former member of the European Parliament, have not helped the situation. Speaking prior to last weekend's controversial Orange Order parade he was quoted as saying that the re-routing of the parade could provide 'the spark which kindles a fire there could be no putting out'. And standing by his side was the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Reg Empey. Representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party sit in the European Parliament and are members of the EPP-ED and NI respectively.

"It is Sinn Féin's belief that Unionist politicians need to lead by example and provide positive leadership. They need to sit down and talk to Irish republicans and others. We need to see political institutions in the north of Ireland restored and all of the parties working together in the interests of ordinary people.

"Therefore, we are asking MEPs from across Europe to raise this matter with their own political parties and groups within the European Parliament. We ask that they contact the leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party and Democratic Unionist Party to voice their concern at last weekend's violence and encourage them to sit down and engage with Irish republicans on the way forward". ENDS

Note to Editor:

Please see letter sent to MEPs.

AN OPEN LETTER TO MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Dear Colleagues,

Just over a month ago the IRA in a move welcomed across the European Union, ended its armed campaign. This initiative provides an unprecedented opportunity to lift the Irish peace process out of crisis and move the situation forward. Already this work has begun.

However, the response by the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party has been deeply unhelpful. They have shown no positive leadership and instead have been negative and backward looking.

Last week this negative approach manifested itself on the streets of Belfast in widespread violence orchestrated by unionist paramilitaries. It was clearly designed to undermine the progress of recent months.

This dangerous situation was further compounded by inflammatory statements by senior unionist politicians, including the leader of the DUP, Ian Paisley, a former member of the European Parliament. Speaking prior to last weekend's controversial Orange Order parade he was quoted as saying that the re-routing of the parade could provide 'the spark which kindles a fire there could be no putting out'. And standing by his side was the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Reg Empey. Representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party and the Democratic Unionist Party sit in the European Parliament and are members of the EPP-ED and NI respectively.

I believe that Unionist politicians need to lead by example and provide positive leadership. They need to sit down and talk to Irish republicans and others. We need to see political institutions in the north of Ireland restored and all of the parties working together in the interests of the people.

I would ask that you raise this matter within your party and your group within the Parliament. I would also ask that you contact the leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party and Democratic Unionist Party to voice your concern at last weekend's violence and to encourage them to sit down and engage with Irish republicans on the way forward.

Yours sincerely,

Bairbre de Brún.

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