3rd March 2002
Parties engaging in `pre-election demonisation'
Commenting on reports that the larger parties in the Dáil are due to meet next week to find a way to suspend him, the Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
``The larger parties are engaged in a pre-election effort to demonise this TD and Sinn Fein in general. None of the party whips or indeed any other member of the Oireachtas raised this matter either directly with me or in the Dáil during the past week since I spoke on the Vincent Browne radio programme on 25 February. They are reacting now in an opportunistic manner on the basis of a story in the Irish News on Thursday, which misrepresented what I said.
``Give the record of some of their own members who have brought politics into disrepute it is almost incredible for these parties to attempt to demonise Sinn Fein's sole TD in this manner.
``We in Sinn Fein recognise the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces as the legitimate forces of this State. We are opposed to all armed actions against them. The issue of weapons is being dealt with by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and all parties in the Dáil have supported that process. Successive governments, involving all the main parties, have worked with our representatives in the peace process on that basis.
``This contrived controversy comes within weeks of a general election and that is what it is all about. It has nothing to do with the united effort which we must all make, and in which Sinn Fein has been to the fore, to overcome the legacy of conflict and anchor the peace process.''
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