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Government's back tracking on Northern Representation reprehensible

15 February, 2006

Sinn Féin leader in the Dáil, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has described as "absolutely reprehensible" the Taoiseach's decision, announced in the Dáil today, that he would not be progressing the issue of Northern Representation in the Dáil as he had previously proposed. During exchanges in the Dáil Deputy Ó Caoláin said the remarks were alarming.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "I am deeply alarmed by the Taoiseach's response to the question regarding his proposal to establish a committee of the whole Dáil to accommodate the participation of Northern MPs in specific debates with elected colleagues on this part of the island to address issues of common concern.

"This is the first indication of the Taoiseach's intent not to proceed with this proposition. As somebody who had welcomed his endeavour to meet the recommendations of the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution in that regard I am, to say the least, disquieted that he is now considering not an alternative but something which is much less than the thrust of the committee's recommendation, namely an accommodation involving existing committees outside the Dáil chamber which amounts to the same access that any lobby or interest group can avail of.

"That falls far short of the reasonable expectation that has been created within swathes of opinion north of the border, not confined to nationalism and republicanism but among many of another tradition and background who also viewed the proposition positively.

"It is absolutely reprehensible that the Taoiseach appears to have caved in to the partitionist demands of Fine Gael and Labour, who despite being signatories to the original All-Party recommendations, have decided, now the proposition could become a reality, to actively work against it. This is an appalling capitulation by the Taoiseach and raises serious questions about his integrity on this very important issue." ENDS

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