[Sinn Fein]

8 November 2000

Sinn Fein takes Peter Mandelson to court

Sinn Fein Equality spokesperson Conor Murphy MLA has instituted legal proceedings against Peter Mandelson over his decision to issue regulations on the flying of flags over government buildings.  Mr Murphy said:

``A judicial review of Peter Mandelson's decision to issue regulations on the flying of flags over government buildings has been initiated n my name.

``The flying of flags at government buildings is a matter for the Executive and Assembly, to be determined by consensus in line with principles agreed in the Good Friday Agreement.

``The Good Friday Agreement recognises the sensitivity in the use of symbols and emblems and, in particular, the need in creating the new institutions to ensure that symbols and emblems are used in a manner which promotes mutual respect rather than division.

``Instead of allowing agreement to be reached based on consensus in the Executive and Assembly, Peter Mandelson proceeded to exercise powers he took during the period of suspension and stated he would not use them except as a last resort.  His intervention on this issue has been designed to shore up David Trimble's position as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and is in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement and equality provisions.

``Clearly, while Peter Mandelson says he had regard to the Good Friday Agreement, I do not believe that he gave any or any sufficient consideration to its meaning. The promotion of parity of esteem, equality and inclusion has taken second place in Peter Mandelson's priorities to shore up the party political position of David Trimble.''

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