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DUP MEP misleading constituents over invites to meet Sinn Féin delegations

26 October, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has this morning called upon the DUP's Jim Allister to 'stop misleading his constituents and engage with Sinn Féin for the benefit of all our people'.

Mr Allister asserted on Monday's Talkback programme that he had never been invited to meet with groups that Sinn Féin had invited to Brussels. Mr Allister further repeated this assertion in a press release posted on the DUP website on Monday 24th October.

Yet invitations have been sent to Mr Allister and this correspondence can be made available.

Mr Allister made his comments after a row erupted when the DUP MEP threatened to withdraw his part-sponsorship from a Fermanagh Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) delegation trip to Brussels if they went ahead with a planned meeting with the Sinn Féin MEP, Bairbre de Brún. The UFU have since pulled out of the meeting with Ms de Brún.

Speaking today Ms de Brún said:

"If Mr Allister wants to play petty sectarian politics then that it is his choice. However, I feel I must put the record straight. Since election to the European Parliament in June 2004, Sinn Féin has made a consistent effort to engage with both the UUP and the DUP at European level.

"Mr Allister is peddling the line that 'Sinn Fein do not invite me to meet groups they are sponsoring'.

On the 28th September an e-mail was sent to the offices of both Jim Nicholson and Jim Allister inviting them to meet with a delegation of people bereaved through suicide who travelled to the EU Parliament hosted by myself. Neither of the two unionist MEPs even acknowledged receipt of the e-mail.

"Furthermore, I personally sent a letter to Mr Allister requesting a meeting to discuss a joined up approach to a PEACE III programme.

"Last year when I sent a general invitation to MEPs to a hearing with families bereaved through collusion both unionist MEPs responded publicly to the notification sent and both picketed the meeting.

"The attitude of the DUP in particular to working with Sinn Féin at a European level reflects their inability to adapt to changing political realities in Ireland. The IRA initiative of September 26th has opened up the potential for real political progress.

"A united voice in Europe on matters such as agriculture and rural development, structural funding and environmental issues is absolutely essential, and those who refuse to engage are selling their constituents short.

"The developments and changed political landscape of recent weeks and months provide even greater potential than hitherto for all Irish MEPs North and South to work together to advance the socio-economic and political agenda on behalf of people across the island." ENDS

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