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29 August 2002 Edition

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Tired unionist threat

BY MICHAEL PIERSE


Reports of further UUP attempts to secure Sinn Féin's exclusion from the Six-County Executive amount to the "same old refrain" from unionism, and offer no alternative to the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Féin national chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said on Wednesday.

The Derry Assembly member was commenting on reports of another impending Ulster Unionist Council meeting, called to demand Sinn Féin's exclusion from the Executive.

He told An Phoblacht: "We have been over this ground many times before and nothing has changed except that no name has been attached to this latest move. It's the same old refrain, only this time from faceless members of the Unionist Council.

"No matter who is behind this latest drive to frustrate the functioning of the political institutions - as with those before them - they have yet to come up with any alternative to the Good Friday Agreement."

David Trimble, said McLaughlin, would need to follow Sinn Féin's and the SDLP's lead in developing support, within the republican and nationalist community, for the Agreement.

"I believe that if David Trimble is sincere in his support of the Agreement, then it is incumbent on him that he is seen to be championing it within pro-Agreement unionism. Sinn Féin and the SDLP have consistently sold the Agreement to our respective constituencies and David Trimble needs to do likewise in his constituency."

Speculation that the UUP leader's position within the party is coming under increasing attack would not concern Sinn Féin, McLaughlin said.

"As to whether David Trimble's leadership is under threat, that is a matter for the Ulster Unionist Party. Sinn Féin has no influence over who leads the Ulster Unionists, but we are committed to this process and will work with whoever the Ulster Unionist Leader is, be that David Trimble or someone else."
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