2 October 2008 Edition
British Labour Party conference hears concerns over DUP stance
DELEGATES to the British Labour Party annual conference in Manchester last week were briefed by a Sinn Féin delegation in a series of meetings on the current political situation in the North, including the ongoing failure by the DUP to set a date for transfer of policing and justice powers to the Assembly.
Sinn Féin Vice-President Pat Doherty MP raised strong concerns over the issue at a large breakfast fringe debate on the Monday of conference. The debate was hosted by the cross-party pro-Agreement group, Champ, with Pat Doherty speaking alongside DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson on a panel chaired by Channel 4’s Gary Gibbon. The breakfast was also attended by British Secretary of State Shaun Woodward, Irish Ambassador to Britain David Cooney and a range of MPs, and Irish community and business representatives.
Pat Doherty warned that there could be no departure from power-sharing and equality and argued strongly that the DUP – and the British Government — have to live up to the commitments made at St Andrew’s:
“I think it is remiss of the DUP to say they didn’t give a commitment to the transfer of policing and justice powers by the spring of this year. You cannot move forward on the basis of equality and co-operation if other parties renege on commitments made.”
‘TOWARDS IRISH UNITY’
Sinn Féin also held a well-attended fringe meeting on the Sunday, Towards Irish Unity, addressed by Sinn Féin Assembly member Raymond McCartney and the party’s political co-ordinator for Britain, Seán Oliver.
The meeting addressed key current issues around the Peace Process but also formed part of Sinn Féin’s initiative to put the discussion on Irish unity back at the heart of the political debate, both within Ireland and internationally. The audience included the Irish Ambassador, MP Jeremy Corbyn, senior trade union representatives and a range of constituency delegates.
Raymond McCartney told the meeting:
“We are closer to achieving a united Ireland than at any time in the past. There is growing support for Irish unity on the island of Ireland. The partition of our country must and will end. We ask people to join with us in this historic endeavour and we are also conscious that we need to win the assent of a significant section of the unionist community to achieve this.”
On the current developments, McCartney said Sinn Féin has “successfully delivered” in terms of the Good Friday Agreement while the DUP are “in default”, in particular in relation to policing and justice. He called on the British Government to ensure delivery of commitments. He reiterated Sinn Féin’s commitment to the Peace Process.
AGREED IRELAND FORUM
The Derry MLA also addressed an Agreed Ireland Forum fringe meeting marking the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights movement alongside a panel of speakers including Kevin McNamara, May Blood, Martin Collins, Alastair McDonnell MLA and Shaun Woodward. He said key issues of equality and rights remained at the centre of Sinn Féin’s priorities and the political agenda.
Elsewhere at conference, the Sinn Féin delegation, which also included Martina Anderson MLA, attended events hosted by the Irish Embassy, the trade unions, the Labour Party Irish Society and other international fringe meeting discussions.