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20 May 2004 Edition

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SF launches legal challenge to British sanctions

Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was joined by party colleagues Bairbre de Brún and Conor Murphy on Wednesday morning as he revealed details of a legal challenge against the decision of the British Government to sanction Sinn Féin in the wake of the flawed IMC Report.

"British Government sanctions discriminate against our electorate," said Adams. "They are undemocratic and in our view are a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights." Adams said that the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle had taken a decision last Saturday to challenge the British Government sanctions against the party through the courts.

The IMC was established by the British and Dublin Governments last year but it was not part of the Agreement and relies on reports from securocrats and crown forces. Rather than independent, it is a smokescreen for political intervention on the basis of the securocrats' agenda.

The IMC has recommended sanctions against Sinn Féin, yet it has offered not even one allegation that Sinn Féin is in any way in breach of the Agreement. Its report is absurd and contradictory and its conclusions are politically driven.

It is the IMC and the sanctions, said Adams, that are "clearly in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement. The role of the IMC was to facilitate the exclusion of Sinn Féin, to soft pedal on unionist violence and to ignore totally the behaviour of the British Government, the party most in breach of the Agreement."

The irony is that the most glaring breach of the Agreement and one that is continuing is the suspension of the political institutions by the British Government. Continuing suspension allows unionists off the hook who otherwise would be exposed as refusing to take part in the institutions.

"The IMC is not independent," said Adams. "That much is obvious from its remit and membership." This includes John Alderdice, a political opponent of Sinn Féin for the past 30 years; John Grieve, former head of the Metropolitan Police and officer in charge of the operation in which unarmed IRA Volunteer Diarmuid O'Neill who, while trying to surrender, was shot dead by police; Joe Brosnan, former Secretary General of the Department of Justice in Dublin; and Richard Kerr, former Deputy Director of the CIA.

"The recent report from the IMC, which the British Government is using as the basis to discriminate against Sinn Féin," said the Sinn Féin President, "is a proxy report by the securocrats, PSNI and British Army. The recommendations are clearly discriminatory and subvert the democratic and electoral rights and mandate of Sinn Féin and our electorate.

"Moreover, the IMC report itself acknowledges that Sinn Féin 'is not in a position actually to determine what policies or operational strategies PIRA will adopt'. Having admitted this and accepted that Sinn Féin has used its influence, it then proceeds to recommend sanctions against us.

"We take this case not in the expectation of a British court finding against a British Government in favour of Sinn Féin but we are duty bound to defend the rights and entitlements of our electorate and also to exhaust all domestic remedies in so doing."

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