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18 September 2003 Edition

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Kelly in London to demand elections

Sinn Féin North Belfast representative Gerry Kelly was in Westminster on 17 September where he briefed cross-party MPs and the media about the current situation with the peace process. At a morning press conference, he stressed the urgent need to call the Assembly elections: "Without doubt elections are

a matter of political principle. They are vital if we are to create a new context - create a new dynamic - without that there is no prospect of progress."

He added that setting a definitive date for elections was not on its own enough. "We have to remember the last time Mr Blair slapped republicans and the Taoiseach in the face by cancelling elections." he said, adding that this created a "a deep well of anger and frustration". He said even with an election date "there is no guarantee of future initiatives from republicans.

"Moving things forward is not just the responsibility of republicans. There is a collective responsibility on all of us."

Kelly was also critical of the legislation being brought before the British House of Commons to establish the Independent Monitoring Commission as "the result of efforts by the British government to appease unionism further.

"Since it was first established it has been further modified to meet the demands of the various unionist factions," he said. "The principle difficulty with this Commission is the fact that it gives power and authority to a British Minister which fundamentally alters and is outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

"Sinn Féin has no problems with accountability, however we will not support mechanisms which fall totally outside the terms of the Agreement."

Kelly was also in London to support the candidacy of Kelly McBride, who is standing in the Brent East by-election on 18 September to highlight the continued injustices surrounding the murder of her brother, Peter McBride, in North Belfast in 1992 by a patrol of Scots Guards.

• A group of British parliamentarians and prominent individuals, including union representatives, Tom Griffin, editor of the Irish World and actor Adrian Dunbar, have put their names to a letter demanding that the British government set the date of the poll for the elections "without further delay". The signatories, including MPs Kevin McNamara, John McDonnell and Baroness Harris of Richmond, are "gravely concerned that the British government has acted unilaterally to suspend the institutions and cancel planned elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly with no date set for a new ballot

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