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Martin McGuinness challenges Peter Hain at Preparation for Government Committee

18 September, 2006

Sinn Féin Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness today challenged the British Secretary of State Peter Hain during a public session of the Preparation for Government Committee to state clearly the two governments strategy to achieve fully functioning institutions in the time ahead. Mr McGuinness also stated that the transfer of powers on policing and justice to these institutions was a crucial element of resolving the policing issue.

In a short address to the meeting Mr McGuinness said:

"I welcome the announcement by the two governments confirming the date for the forthcoming political talks. Whatever about the merits of the location, Sinn Féin have been pressing the two governments for sometime to set out a plan of action to see the Good Friday Agreement implemented in full.

"Sinn Fein are approaching the coming period in a positive fashion. However the onus for ensuring progress is made rests with the two governments. If it becomes clear that not all of the parties will commit to inclusive institutions then they need to set out clearly their schedule for delivering all other aspects of the Good Friday Agreement in full.

"On the specific issue of policing, and the politics of policing, Sinn Féin is firmly of the view that there needs to be an end once and for all to political policing which has been a feature of this state since partition.

"The nationalist experience of policing has been entirely negative. We have seen systematic repression, human rights abuses, collusion and manipulation of loyalist death squads by a policing force which was the armed wing of the sectarian state. So called national security has been used to turn policing and the entire judicial system into weapons of state repression.

"We need an end to political policing. We need policing which is democratic, accountable, representative and free from political control. Central to achieving this is the transfer of power to locally elected politicians. Sinn Féin argued for and secured British legislation to enable his to happen. But we also need fully functioning political institutions, so can we hear today the British government strategy for achieving this."ENDS

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