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McLaughlin - Setting of election date is the first step required to end the political vacuum

14 August, 2003


Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin speaking following a meeting of the party's regional leadership in Dublin this morning said that 'there is a clear sense from across the country that republicans are becoming increasingly frustrated at the approach being taken by the British government.' He said that the the setting of the date for the Assembly elections is the first step required to end the political vacuum.

Mr. McLaughlin said:

"This morning Sinn Féin's regional leadership met in Dublin to evaluate the current crisis in the peace process and to begin preparations for an Autumn campaign in defence of democracy and the right to vote. There is a clear sense from across the country that republicans are becoming increasingly frustrated at the approach being taken by the British government. The setting of the date for the Assembly elections is the first step required to end the political vacuum and rebuild the process and not something to be granted or withheld as a bargaining chip.

"The Good Friday Agreement was based on the primacy of politics and was meant to be a clear demonstration that the days of unionist supremacy were over. It was meant to be the begining of a future based on equality and respect.

"Instead what we have seen over the last four years is the British government trying to implement the Agreement through a unionist prism. And when even that wasn‚t acceptable to unionism the British government pulled the plug entirely - brought down the institutions and cancelled the elections.

"It is clear that British direct rule is deeply unpopular and more that that it is clear that the ongoing political vacuum is causing untold difficulties with people becoming more and more disillusioned with the process with every day that passes. Our responsibility as political leaders is to rebuild the political process. Sinn Féin is willing to play our part. The question is whether the British government is willing to play theirs."ENDS

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