[Sinn Fein]

10 August 2001

Nationalist rights held to ransom

Sinn Fein Chief negotiator Martin McGuinness MP MLA speaking at a press conference today said:

This week, which started with a ground breaking statement from the IICD, appears to be going to end with the suspension of the political institutions.

But no-one should consider that the institutions can simply be suspended at the behest of David Trimble and then return in the weeks or months ahead to all of the other issues without considering the effects of these actions.

The only option for a British government which is wedded to the Good Friday Agreement is to let Agreement takes it's course.  Gerry Adams made this clear to the British Secretary of State John Reid yesterday.

If the British government takes the Mandelson route then it will again be in breach of the Agreement.  The British government will be preventing Unionism from facing up to its responsibilities, and worse rewarding them for it.

It could be that Dr Reid will ignore this advice.  But if the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Dr. Reid suspend the people's institutions, even for a day, they should first calculate the effect this will have on nationalists and republicans.

If it becomes clear that the price for the institutions is that nationalist rights are to be filtered through unionism; or that the former First Minister will be rewarded for acting unlawfully; or if the British government moves away >from the contract they agreed on the Good Friday Agreement three years ago, then come autumn many nationalists and republicans may think that this is too high a price to pay.

The root of current crisis is to be found in David Trimble's proposition to his party delegates last autumn.  Then he committed himself to creating a crisis in the institutions, to blame republicans and nationalists and to achieve suspension. 

The IRA, he told the world only responds to pressure.  The last thirty years of conflict is proof of how this doesn't work.  The last seven years of potential for peace making, imperfect though it has been, is proof of what does work.

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