[Sinn Fein]

30 January 2001

Trimble ban on SF Ministers `unlawful'

Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin commenting on today's judicial review ruling that David Trimble's ban on nominating Sinn Fein Ministers to North/South Ministerial Council meetings has called for the cancelled NSMC meetings to be rescheduled.

Mr. McLaughlin said:

``In refusing to nominate the two Sinn Fein Ministers, Bairbre de Brun and Martin McGuinness, to attend NSMC meetings the First Minister David Trimble was, in our view, acting outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and in particular, in breach of his Pledge of Office.

``We expected the court to endorse our view and it has.  The judgement found that Mr. Trimble is acting unlawfully and is in clear breach of his statutory duty.  Mr. Trimble's action has caused a major fracturing in the operation of the NSMC.  He cannot be allowed to exercise a veto over the operation of these important institutions.

``The British government bears a large responsibility for bringing us to this point today.  The new British Secretary of State John Reid has a legal and moral obligation to ensure that David Trimble acts within the terms of his role as First Minister.

``The NSMC meetings which were cancelled as a result of the First Minister's action should now take place.  There are a range of important matters which need to be dealt with urgently and which were being obstructed by David Trimble's actions.

``It is important to point out that David Trimble's actions have negative consequences not just for Sinn Fein but for the entire population of the island of Ireland.  His actions are preventing progress on important issues which would have benefited all the people of Ireland.  Issues including child protection, the provision of special needs education, cancer research and emergency services.

``Mr. Trimble should now abide by the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and allow all of us to get on with the important work for which we are mandated.''ENDS

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