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29 April 1999 Edition

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Stormont Circus provides no surprises

By Caitlín Doherty

As the summer weeks grow closer, there is a sense that the Stormont political circus is having difficulty selling its tickets. There was no show this week, and it seems that the talking is confined to the basement around tea and coffee. Needless to say, in this situation the public political diary is virtually non-existent.

Meanwhile, far from the spotlight, daily attacks on the nationalist community continue, the probes into the Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson murders get further covered up, and tensions escalate in Portadown.

Last week, Sinn Féin spokesperson on policing, Bairbre de Brún, highlighted the blatant contradictions and irregularities in relation to the RUC and British government's attitude towards fully independent and public inquiries into the murders of Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane.

On Wednesday, trilateral meetings between Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the UUP were held at Stormont. There was, however, no indication that David Trimble's obstructionist stance was changing. The day before, Sinn Féin chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin had urged Trimble to call the bluff of the ``No men'' within the UUP. This followed the Irish Times/RTE poll, which showed that an even greater number of people would support the Good Friday Agreement now, than did last year.

The poll was consistent with what Sinn Féin has been saying for months: David Trimble is not under the type of pressure that the Ulster Unionists are portraying in order to justify their refusal to implement the Agreement. The poll was welcomed with scepticism, reflecting the whole process- in the absence of any substantial efforts to break the deadlock, the media is creating the news.

On Monday, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams attended a reception at the South

African High Commission to mark the country's Freedom Day. He referred to David Trimble's rejection of John Hume's proposal for breaking the political deadlock and said: ``I have already said that I am prepared to stretch the republican constituency in an effort to find a resolution to the deadlock, provided that it is within the context of the Good Friday Agreement.''
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