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Taoiseach's Dáil mandate is to demand autumn election - Ó Caoláin

27 July, 2003

Embargo 3pm Sunday 27 July 2003

Speaking in Kilnaleck, Co. Cavan, at the unveiling of a monument to IRA Captain Edward Boylan who was killed in the Civil War, Sinn Féin Dail leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the Taoiseach‚s clear mandate from the Dáil was to demand of Tony Blair that the postponed Assembly elections be held in the autumn. He said people did not vote for Direct Rule when they voted for the Agreement and called on the Taoiseach to convene a special summit with the British Prime Minister. Deputy Ó Caolain said:

"The current impasse in the peace process is totally unacceptable to Republicans. It is totally unacceptable also to the vast majority of people on this island.

"When the people voted for the Good Friday Agreement they did not vote for Direct Rule from Westminster. Yet that is what we have now - Direct Rule and political drift with the institutions so painstakingly constructed now in suspension at the behest of anti-Agreement unionism.

"A British government which falsely boasts that it is a champion of freedom on the international stage has twice cancelled democratic elections in Ireland and four times suspended the institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement.

"In May the entire Dáil called for the postponed elections to be rescheduled for this autumn. The autumn is rapidly approaching yet there is no sign that the British government is preparing to hold elections.

"I call on the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to arrange a special summit meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss not whether, but when this autumn the elections will be held. The Taoiseach‚s mandate from the Dáil is to accept no less from Tony Blair.

"The political process is being held hostage by the now dominant anti-Agreement faction in the Ulster Unionist Party. On Friday last David McNarry, a leading aide to David Trimble, accused Jeffrey Donaldson of 'trying to cynically side-step democratic decisions'. This is rich indeed coming from a UUP leadership which has thwarted the implementation of the Agreement at every turn.

"The current impasse makes it more important than ever for the Taoiseach to provide for representation in the Dáil for citizens in the Six Counties. This will be Sinn Féin's most immediate demand as soon as the Dáil resumes.

"Sinn Féin will continue our efforts at every level to break the impasse. But we cannot wait forever and if the unionists continue to make the Agreement unworkable then the Irish government must sit down and work out with the other nationalist parties how we proceed and what demands we make of the British government. It was nationalist Ireland that brought about the peace process. If necessary nationalist Ireland must also move it into a new phase." ENDS

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