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Dialogue and inclusiveness are a must for any peace process to succeed

22 February, 2006

Speaking during priority questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Dáil today the Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh called on Minister Dermot Ahern to encourage the Spanish authorities to realise that the banning of the political party Batasuna is not conducive to peace and to learn from the example of Ireland where it has been clearly shown that inclusiveness is the cornerstone of progress.

He said, "Given our mutual recognition that dialogue is central to building a just and lasting peace -- a common understanding garnered from our experience here in Ireland -- it is obvious that the ongoing banning and criminalisation of one political partner to the peace process in the Basque country is not conducive to the progression of that process. The achievement a viable peace process is impossible when one of the main political parties involved has been declared illegal.

"The inclusion of Batasuna on the EU list of terrorist organisations has been counterproductive in assisting the development of a Basque peace process. It is completely unacceptable to deny a community their fundamental rights to assembly, free speech, political association and representation. The minister must commit to impress this objection to the 'Macrosummario' on the Spanish Authorities. The 'Macrosummario' is an ongoing trial of 90 political and social activists which denies these people their most fundamental civil and political rights."

Speaking afterwards Aengus Ó Snodaigh, while welcoming the Minister's desire to see the peace process advanced in the Basque country, expressed his disappointment that the Minister "feels no need to defend and promote the basic human rights of Basque nationalists. The Minister's contention that this is an internal matter for the Spanish Government runs contrary to the fact that that Government has involved other EU nations in placing Batasuna onto an EU list of banned organisations. Dialogue and inclusiveness are a must for any peace process to succeed." ENDS

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