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16 September 2004 Edition

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Talks team fly out

"Sinn Féin has repeatedly said in our recent discussions with the governments that if Leeds Castle is to have any hope of success closure was needed on many of the key outstanding issues. In our view, as we prepare to fly to England, the work that needed to be done has not been done."

This was the view of Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin at a press conference in Belfast on Wednesday just before the departure of the party's talks delegates.

McLaughlin told the media:

"In June Gerry Adams set out the Sinn Féin objective for tomorrows talks at Leeds Castle; a comprehensive, holistic agreement which conclusively deals with all of the outstanding issues. Finding such an agreement has been our singular focus in weeks of intense discussion between Sinn Féin and the two governments.

"Sinn Fein has expressed privately and publicly our preparedness to face up to the challenges that this major undertaking presents. But the two governments and the DUP also need to face up to the challenges if we are to have a successful outcome.

"For example, the British government is still refusing to agree to an independent, judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, and the DUP have not even met with Sinn Fein - and are unlikely to do so in the next few days. We are concerned that the governments may be tempted to make significant concessions to the DUP's anti-Agreement agenda and, in particular, their attempts to undermine the core principle of power-sharing and the all-Ireland architecture of the Agreement. This is unacceptable."

Sinn Féin talks team for Leeds Castle
President Gerry Adams MP
Assembly group leader Conor Murphy MLA
Vice President Pat Doherty MP
Policing Gerry Kelly MLA
Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP
Human Rights & Equality Caitriona Ruane MLA
Co-ordinator Michelle Gildernew MP
Alex Maskey MLA
National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA
Martin Ferris TD
Leinster House group leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD
Mary Lou McDonald MEP

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