[Sinn Fein]

4 December 2000

Peter Mandelson a disaster for the process - Martin McGuinness

Speaking on the current crisis in the Irish peace process before meeting the Australian Foreign Minister in Canberra today (Monday), Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness described British Secretary of State Peter Mandelson as a political disaster.

Mr McGuinness said:

``The unfortunate reality that we must now face is that in Peter Mandelson we have a peace wrecker rather than a peace maker.

``Peter Mandelson inherited a unique and highly developed opportunity to resolve the historic conflict in Ireland.  By his mishandling of this opportunity he has retarded the search for a lasting peace in Ireland and endangered the Good Friday Agreement which so many worked so hard to achieve.

``On May 5th, the British and Irish governments issued a joint letter and statement setting out specific commitments, which related to important issues, including the implementation of Patten and demilitarisation.  Since then, Peter Mandelson has obstructed the delivery of the commitments made by his prime minister.

``The IRA initiative was situated in this context and was wholly dependent on these commitment being honoured.  The British government reneged. I believe that this was primarily the responsibility of Peter Mandelson.  And not only has he not honoured commitments given to nationalists and republicans, he has pursued with enthusiasm a pro-unionist agenda ever since, opposing demilitarisation, undermining the Patten recommendations and taking the power to fly the Union flag over the departments of nationalist and republican ministers.

``In short,  Peter Mandelson is a disaster.  We need to see a new approach on the part of the British government if the present crisis is to be resolved. I very much doubt whether Peter Mandelson has the integrity to recognise this, much less acknowledge it.''

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