[Sinn Fein]

2 August 2001

Kelly briefs Belfast Sinn Fein

Speaking tonight at a meeting of Sinn Fein's Belfast Executive party spokesperson on Policing Gerry Kelly MLA said:

``There has been a media focus since Wednesday on what Sinn Fein's response to the two government's package would be, and while that may be fair enough there is also a need to analyse precisely what the two, governments are committing themselves to do.

``When you read the government proposals closely there are very few real commitments in it.  What we have are proposals some of which are put in a very qualified manner.  We are then told that this package is a `take it or leave it' affair.  But in reality we all know that it is impossible to reach that point until you know exactly what you are taking or leaving.

``If we were to take seriously some of the remarks we have heard in recent days by some of the commentators then we would be left with -no other conclusion other than: peace is optional justice is optional human rights are optional acceptable policing is optional the Good Friday Agreement is optional

``However we should be clear that the two governments have not presented their proposals in such terms.  Rather, they have presented them for what they are - proposals sent from mere mortals and not `tablets of stone received from on high. 

``And that is precisely how Sinn Fein will deal with them.

``We will assess the potential of the government's proposals as an effective implementation plan to bring about the full and speedy implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in the terms agreed.

``However, as I have said earlier we will require the relevant information to enable us to make this assessment.

``This includes the as yet unpublished implementation plan for policing and the unpublished draft legislation and implementation plan for a fair and impartial system of justice.

``I am the Sinn Fein spokesperson on policing.  I have spent days going through this issue with the British government.  Yet tonight I am still not in a position to tell you if the British government are going to deliver the new beginning to policing promised in the Agreement.  Do I trust them to do it?  No of course I don't; that is why we want to see their plans in black and white on policing and justice.

``With regard to the demilitarisation of society we again have the British approaching this matter with rationalisation being their guide rather than conflict resolution.  The minor tinkering with military installations proposed will impress nobody particularly as this is ring-fenced in conditions.  Take it or leave - I think you need to catch yourself on. 

``That said I do not wish to pre-empt or prejudice the wide ranging consideration of this package by the party.  But I believe that it is important to bring activists attention to some of the salient points.   But on a general note, our approach will be guided by the Good Friday Agreement that is binding on all of the parties and the two governments.  We will proof all of the proposals against the Agreement.   All of these matters - policing, political institutions, demilitarisation, the arms issue, human rights, justice etc - are stand alone issues - which need to be resolved in their own right.

``This is the basis on which we will assess the proposals and engage the governments in a critical and constructive manner.'' ENDS

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