Taoiseach should press ahead with Dáil proposals
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said the rejection by Fine Gael and Labour of the Taoiseach's proposal to provide for participation of Six-County MPs in a Committee of the whole Dáil "exposes these deeply partitionist parties for what they are. They want to keep the Oireachtas as a cold house for Northern nationalists." Deputy Ó Caoláin is to seek clarification from the Taoiseach about the status of the proposal, including the attitude of his Coalition partners the PDs, and has urged Bertie Ahern to proceed with the plan.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "Before the ink was dry on the Taoiseach's letter to them Fine Gael and the Labour Party have rejected the proposal to provide for participation of Six-County MPs in a Committee of the whole Dáil. These deeply partitionist parties have been exposed for what they are. It also exposes the hollowness of their oft-repeated praise of the SDLP. They want to slam the door in the face of that party's MPs so that Sinn Féin can also be kept out. And of course this proposal would provide for all MPs to participate, including unionists, but Fine Gael and Labour want to rule out any possibility of such participation as well.
"Above all, the stance taken by the leaderships of Fine Gael and the Labour Party is an insult to the nationalist community in the Six Counties. They want to keep the Oireachtas as a 'cold house' for Northern nationalists.
"I have written to the Taoiseach seeking clarification on the status of his proposal now, in particular if it is the case that the Progressive Democrats have vetoed it. In his letter to the party leaders the Taoiseach stated his intention to invite Six-County MPs to participate in a Committee of the whole Dáil. The agreement of other parties was sought on the format and agenda of such meetings. Therefore the Taoiseach should proceed with his proposal.
"Serious questions have been raised for the rank and file membership of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. Are Fianna Fáil members content to see Michael McDowell and Mary Harney vetoing this modest and reasonable proposal? Are the rank and file members of Fine Gael - the 'United Ireland party' and Labour, the party that claims the mantle of James Connolly, content to allow their leaders to turn them into fully fledged unionist parties?" ENDS