[Sinn Fein]

25 June 2001

Alliance Party place self-preservation above democracy & equality

Belfast Sinn Fein Councillor Michael Browne has said that the Alliance Party decision not to back Sinn Fein candidate Alex Maskey in tonight's mayoral election at Belfast City Hall has angered nationalists.

Cllr. Browne said:

``Irrespective of how they attempt to present themselves the Alliance Party has today demonstrated that they are nothing other than a unionist party.  Today's decision reflects the Alliance Party's pre-occupation with defending their unionist vote.  Self preservation is clearly now top of the agenda for the Alliance Party.

``The so called issues of concern raised by the Alliance Party were no different to those pointed up by them prior to the election for mayor last year. However, on the basis of a Sinn Fein position which has not changed the Alliance Party on that occasion saw fit to support the Sinn Fein candidate.  One wonders what has happened since then to warrant today's u-turn ?

``My suspicion is that the Alliance Party have managed to put together a squalid deal with the Ulster Unionists, DUP and PUP which will see them take senior positions on the council in this term.  The people of Belfast deserve to hear the truth in this regard.  It is to be hoped that the Alliance Party can muster the courage to make their position clear. ``Nationalists throughout the city and beyond have been angered by the fact that the remnants of the Alliance Party grouping at City Hall has prevented the election of Belfast's first Sinn Fein mayor.  Alliance Party members will do well to remember that a little more than two weeks ago voters in this city overwhelmingly rejected them while returning Sinn Fein as the largest party on the City Council.

``The Alliance Party have today demonstrated their contempt of Sinn Fein voters.  They have signalled to the many people who vote for our party that their votes are not as important as those cast for other parties.  By their actions the Alliance Party has shown that they have nothing to offer efforts aimed at securing an atmosphere of equality and total inclusion at City Hall.

``Sinn Fein will seek to ensure that the principle of proportionality is applied in the future with regard to mayor appointments.  In these circumstances the Alliance Party will no longer be allowed to hold democracy to ransom in this city.''

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