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Colombian Peace Process

22 June, 2007

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney will travel to London on Monday to address a conference on securing peace in Colombia. The conference organised by Justice for Columbia and sponsored by the Law Society is designed to explore ways of ending the civil war in Colombia.

Mr McCartney said:

"I am pleased to be asked to address the conference on kick starting a peace process in Colombia by relating the experiences gathered through the Irish Peace Process.

"Civil war has raged in Colombia for over forty years and this has resulted in humanitarian crisis. Civic society in Colombia has come together to promote a peace process and a delegation will travel to Europe next week to explore ways of making it a reality.

"Three European countries (France, Spain & Switzerland) have already produced a detailed proposal on how potential exchange talks could work , the key issue is that by sitting down to negotiate the exchange, channels of communications will be opened and some level of trust built up between the two sides, therefore making the prospect of further talks more likely.

"I will be representing Sinn Féin in relating our experience of the Irish peace process especially the crucial role that political prisoners played throughout that process and hope that the different sides in Colombia can learn the lessons that we learnt as we moved through our own process." ENDS

Note To Editors:

The Colombian delegation includes: Congressman Wilson Borja, elected to the Colombian Congress as the representative for Bogotá in 2002 and 2006; Monsignor Luis Augusto Castro, Archbishop of Tunja; Governor Angelino Garzon, Governor of Valle de Cauca; Dr Carlos Gaviria, leader of the Democratic Pole political party and second in the 2006 Colombian presidential elections; Dr Carlos Lozano, is the editor of the opposition newspaper VOZ; Mr Tarcisio Mora Godoy, Legal Director and ombudsman of the CUT trade union federation; Dr Jose Noe Rios, General Secretary of the Colombian Liberal Party; Yolanda Pulecio de Betancourt, has been active in Colombian politics since the 1950s and has held numerous Government posts since that time.

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