19 July 2001 Edition

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Mitchel spells it out


Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin, was in London on Tuesday, 17 July, where he spoke at a meeting of the Friends of Ireland, called to discuss the current crisis facing the Good Friday Agreement.

He told the House of Commons audience that the recent negotiations in Weston Park were ``clearly an attempt by the British government and the unionists to renegotiate the Good Friday Agreement'' and that the solution to the current crisis could only be found by sticking to and implementing the Agreement. He said that the role Sinn Féin has played in relation to the arms issue had ``added value'' to the Agreement.

The current crisis had, he said, been created by the failure of the British government to live up to its responsiblities under the Agreement: ``On policing, demilitarisation, the institutions, human rights, criminal justice and equality, they have failed to deliver what was promised in the Agreement. This failure has created a cover from which the unionists have been able to renege on their commitments and further frustrate the process of implementation.''

Stressing that Sinn Féin had honoured every commitment it had entered into on and since Good Friday 1998 and that the IRA had ``gone further than anyone could have expected to demonstrate their commitment to the conflict resolution process'', he called for a clear strategic plan for the full implementation of the Agreement.

Other speakers included the SDLP's Alban Maginness and Liberal Democrat spokesperson on the North Lembit Opik, who said he was optimistic that a solution could be found and that it was incumbent on both governments and all the parties to find a way forward. The meeting was hosted by Labour MPs Kevin McNamara and John McDonnell.

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