Sinn Féin - On Your Side

St. Andrews has the potential to move the process forward

6 November, 2006


Sinn Féin Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP today reported back to the Ard Chomhairle on the consultation, which has taken place within the party over the past fortnight and the recent discussions with the British and Irish governments. Since the Ard Chomhairle met on October 19th in Dublin more than 60 meetings have taken place throughout Ireland.

Speaking following the meeting Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:

"Today's meeting has mandated the party leadership to follow the course set out at St. Andrews and we intend to do this in a very positive way. Our focus is on delivering the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and to bring about the restoration of the power-sharing and all-Ireland political institutions as quickly as possible."

Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, who headed up the consultation panel set up by the Ard Chomhairle, said:

"Sinn Féin's objective in the negotiations that led up to St. Andrews was to advance the peace process and bring about the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. This required the DUP to move to share power jointly with Sinn Fein in the Executive and participate fully in the All-Ireland Ministerial Council.

"If these objectives can be achieved they will mark an historic development on this island.

"Because of the importance of what is at stake we examined the proposals of the British and Irish governments in detail and consulted widely both within the party and in the wider community.

"There are ongoing negotiations on a number of core issues and there are elements in the two governments position which need further work to keep them in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

"Following a thorough discussion the Ard Chomhairle agreed that the process set out at St. Andrews has the potential to deliver the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and to bring about the restoration of the power-sharing and all-Ireland political institutions. It also mandated the party leadership to continue with the ongoing negotiations to resolve the outstanding core issues.

"The issue of policing also came up at today's meeting but the primary focus of our deliberations was on the re-establishment of the political institutions following the St. Andrews talks.

"The resolution of the issue of policing and justice is a matter for the two governments and all the political parties. Issues, which need resolved include agreement on the model and timeframe for transfer.

"Sinn Féin is committed to bring an end to decades of repressive and sectarian policing. All elements in policing need to be accountable. Sinn Féin rejects any role in Ireland or in civic policing for MI5.

"Justice and the fair and impartial rule of law are essential elements of a society at peace with itself. We want to see democratically accountable civic policing and we will continue to work until we achieve this. Gerry Adams will propose to the Ard Chomhairle that we convene a special Ard Fheis as soon as these matters are resolved.

"Of course there are many challenges still to be overcome. The refusal of Ian Paisley to attend the Programme for Government Committee meeting is a set back. And the refusal of the British government to convene this committee in the three weeks since then has meant that little progress has been made in relation to some of the key outstanding issues.

"The Programme for Government Committee should meet urgently. There should be no more unnecessary delays. November 24th has been set by the governments for a meeting of the Assembly to nominate the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. We look forward to this happening." ENDS

Full text of motion passed by Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle

"The Ard Chomhairle notes the report on its consultation process and on recent discussions between the party negotiation team and the two governments.

This includes the concerns raised, the progress made and the work still ongoing.

We believe that the process set out at St. Andrews has the potential to deliver the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and to bring about the restoration of the power-sharing and all-Ireland political institutions.

However, there are elements in the document set out by the two governments, which require further work to keep them in line with the Good Friday Agreement.

There are ongoing negotiations in relation to a number of core issues which have yet to be resolved.

Subject to delivery of these issues the commitments set out in the governments‚ St. Andrews statement could represent a way forward. The Ard Chomhairle mandates the party President and national Officer Board to pursue all of this and to report back to the Ard Chomhairle.

We reiterate our view that the issue of policing and justice is a matter for the two governments and all the political parties. Issues to be agreed include a timeframe for the transfer of powers and a model for the department on policing and justice.

Sinn Fein is committed to bring an end to decades of repressive and sectarian policing.

We reject any role for MI5 in Ireland or in civic policing. We want to see democratically accountable civic policing and we will continue to work until we achieve this."

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