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Durkan using victims of State Violence as political footballs

25 November, 2005

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has accused the SDLP leader Mark Durkan of cynically using the victims of state violence to score cheap political points.

Mr McGuinness said:

" The position on the legislation concerning OTRs is crystal clear. Sinn Fein did not support, propose, discuss or accept that members of the British state forces should be part of the process. For this reason we did not argue for an amnesty.

" The scheme that we negotiated was published by the two governments at Weston Park in 2001 and related only to OTRs. It did not include members of British state forces. We have the papers to prove this. The SDLP if they were paying attention at all at Weston Park would be aware of this reality.

"Sinn Fein are opposed to the inclusion of British state forces in the current legislation. In our view it represents the latest attempt by the British state to conceal the truth about its involvement in the killing of citizens. This proposal is not part of any agreement with Sinn Féin or indeed as the Taoiseach pointed out in the Dail on Wednesday with the Irish government either.

"Sinn Fein will continue to confront the British government on the denial of truth about collusion.

"When the collusion policy was at its height it was our party activists who were a primary target in this policy of state murder. When Sinn Féin raised the issue of collusion publicly the SDLP dismissed it as 'republican propaganda'. When an unarmed republican was shot dead by British State Forces in Downpatrick the local SDLP MP expressed his satisfaction. The SDLP ignored the relatives of those killed through state violence when they lobbied MPs at Westminster and MLAs at Stormont.

" The SDLP members of the Policing Board have abjectly failed to deal with the issue and in particular those PSNI members who were centrally involved in collusion. Their lack of action in response to the passing of PSNI files on 400 republicans to loyalist death squads is evidence of that.

" Mark Durkan is using the victims of state violence as political footballs to try and score cheap political points against Sinn Féin instead of confronting the British government on their policy of collusion and cover up.

" Sinn Fein will continue to support the victims of collusion and state violence as we always have done. We will not allow Mark Durkan or anyone else to divert attention away from the real issue which is the continuing efforts by the British state to conceal the truth" ENDS

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