Sinn Féin - On Your Side

British Must End Patronage Of UUP

1 August, 2003

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP has accused the British government of 'being mesmerised by the divisions within unionism'.

Mr McGuinness said:

"Despite British government denials, everyone knows that their refusal to accord the electorate their right to vote is in part driven by the crisis within unionism. Where else would a key democratic process be suspended because of the internal difficulties of one political party? Where else would an election be cancelled because the outcome is not acceptable to a government?

"The British government is mesmerised by the divisions within the UUP. The peace process and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement have been frozen as a result. This inertia in the peace process has caused a dangerous crisis which others, opposed to political progress, have sought to fill. This includes people in the British system.

"Against this background political and community activists and republicans on the ground have done sterling work to reduce tension and ensure a peaceful summer. Their work has been made much more difficult by the political vacuum which the British government has created. But despite the difficulties, and on-going sectarian attacks by loyalists, their work has borne fruit and the summer marching season has seen considerably less conflict than before.

"Their efforts and energy is in stark contrast to the political inertia of the British government.

"If the crisis in the political process is to be resolved the British government must end its patronage of the Ulster Unionist Party. A firm date for the postponed election must be set. The British government's moratorium on politics must be ended." ENDS

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