[Sinn Fein]

3 July 2001

Kelly attacks Reid's stance

Sinn Fein North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has angrily criticised the British Secretary of State John Reid for his claim that Sinn Fein has a particularly responsibility, over and above the other parties and the governments, to deal with the arms issue.

Mr. Kelly said:

``Not for the first time this British Secretary of State, like his predecessor Peter Mandelson, has sought to lay the primary responsibility for dealing with the arms issues at the door of Sinn Fein.  It appears that part of the job description of British Secretaries of State is that they need not read the Good Friday Agreement.

``The Agreement is very explicit on this issue.  It says that it is the collective responsibility of all the parties and the two governments, equally, to create the conditions in which this issue can be dealt with.

``John Reid cannot abdicate his own or his government's responsibility on this matter.

``The reality is, as isolated nationalist families at this time can testify to, the threat to the peace process and the use of violence is entirely directed at nationalists from loyalists.

``Mr. Reid cannot ignore this fact.  No more than he or the other parties can ignore the fact that almost 1500 people have been killed by state forces, loyalist death squads and as a consequence of collusion over the past 30 years.  These weapons too are part of the problem and must also be part of any resolution of the arms issue.

``For our part Sinn Fein wants to take the gun out of Irish politics.  No one has worked harder to resolve this issue than Sinn Fein.  We have gone beyond our obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.  It is now time for Mr. Reid to ensure that he and his government begin living up to their responsibilities and obligations.''

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