[Sinn Fein]

7th September 2002

Threat to institutions comes from within Unionism

Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin speaking during a meeting of the party's Ard Chomhairle said that the only threat to the political institutions and the peace process comes from within the Ulster Unionist Party. Republicans remain committed to the peace process and the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Mr. McLaughlin said:

"There has been a lengthy discussion this morning on the peace process and the possibility that in the weeks ahead we will see another threat from the UUP leadership to walk away from the political institutions. It is clear that the difficulties which we face are firmly rooted in the power struggle within the UUP, something which has grown out of their failure to promote and defend the Good Friday Agreement.

"In the weeks ahead there may well be a frenetic round of meetings to deal with this crisis emanating from within Unionism. While nobody knows exactly how this will play out, one thing needs to be made very clear the Good Friday Agreement will be implemented and the process of change will continue.

"What is required is the UUP leadership to stop the cycle of crisis and begin to promote and defend the Agreement and for the British government to set the context by honouring their commitments."

Nice Treaty

"Today the Ard Chomhairle finalised preparations for the upcoming referendum on the Nice Treaty. Sinn Fein will be running a very vigorous campaign calling for a No vote including a door to door canvas the length and breath of the state. Central to this campaign will be the issue of democracy and the fact that we are being asked to vote on the exact same referendum twice. The concerns raised last year have not been addressed.

"Contrary to what the Yes campaign outlined in the Dáil this week this referendum is not about membership of the EU, it is not primarily about enlargement and it is not about ending our active participation within EU institutions. This referendum is about changing the structures and shape of the EU to favour the larger states, ending the founding idea of the EU as a partnership of equal states. It is about advancing the agenda to establish a European military capability which would threaten neutrality. It is a flawed treaty not only for this state, but for the EU as a whole and indeed for the applicant states.

"It is clear even at this early stage that there is huge concern at the re-running of this referendum, something which I believe will result in its defeat for a second time."

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