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Sinn Féin focused ahead of talks

3 February, 2006

Speaking in advance of this weekends Ogra Sinn Féin conference and next weeks political talks Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP today said that the Sinn Fein focus in the coming period was to defend the Good Friday Agreement and press ahead with the restoration of the institutions. Mr McGuinness also criticised the current approach of the SDLP in entertaining proposals outside the terms of the Agreement.

Mr McGuinness said:

“Our agenda for Mondays talks is clear. We will be seeking to defend the Good Friday Agreement and we will be seeking to hold the two governments to their stated objective of seeing a speedy restoration of the political institutions.

“Sinn Féin are not interested in half way houses or institutions without full powers. That is the agenda of those who wish to slow down and stall the process of change.

“Sinn Féin, as the largest nationalist and pro-Agreement party, will not allow ourselves to be deflected from the task ahead. People voted for the Agreement and they voted for fully functioning power sharing and all-Ireland institutions. The two governments have a responsibility to reassert the primacy of the political process and the way to do this is by restoring speedily the political institutions and pressing ahead with acting upon the other outstanding matters.

“It is disappointing that the SDLP have given succour to those within the DUP and elsewhere who are seeking to hollow out the power sharing core of the Agreement. The DUP have stated that they have common ground with the SDLP on their proposals for institutions less than the Agreement. The SDLP have themselves admitted being in discussions with the DUP and that they are considering options less than the Good Friday Agreement.

“This is entirely the wrong approach. It mirrors the approach adopted by the SDLP on policing, when they jumped too soon and accepted too little. The SDLP have now become part of the policing establishment and are rewarded with honours from the English Queen. The SDLP now act as cheer leaders for political and partisan policing irrationally opposing Sinn Féin’s efforts to achieve further necessary policing changes

“They have now also set themselves apart form the vast majority of nationalist opinion by accepting without question the unsubstantiated rubbish that makes up the so-called IMC report. In this they have again found common ground with the most negative and extreme voices in the DUP.

“The SDLP have lost their way on a new and entirely anti-republican leadership. The success of Hume/Adams has been replaced by rabid and increasingly hysterical attacks on the Sinn Féin leadership. Their singular focus on Sinn Féin allows the Unionists, the British government and the securocrats off the hook. They need to put the interest of those they represent and the need to see the Good Friday Agreement implemented above their narrow party political resentments and insecurities.” ENDS


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