[Sinn Fein]

24th October 2002

Bilateral meetings in Leinster House "useful and constructive"

The Dáil Group leader of Sinn Fein, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin this evening described a series of bi-lateral meetings hosted by Sinn Fein's five TDs, at which the party's Six County MLAs met with Senators and TDs from all parties in Leinster House today to discuss the current crisis and the issue of northern representation in the Oireacthas as "useful and constructive". Before the meetings took place Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy reacting to news that John Reid has been replaced as Secretary Of State said, "what matters is British policy in Ireland not personalities". "Whoever takes over from John Reid needs to be proactive in addressing all the outstanding issues relating to the Agreement and to produce a plan for its full implementation", he said. Following todays meetings Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "The five Sinn Fein TDs hosted this important initial series of bilateral meetings in order to facilitate our colleagues from the Six Counties in briefing members of the Oireachtas on the current crisis in the peace process and to gain support for northern representation in Leinster House. The meetings took place against the backdrop of the British Governments suspension of the institutions and the ongoing attacks from loyalists on the nationalist community. "At the meetings we explained that a vacuum had now been opened up and indeed deepened in the last few days as a result of Tony Blairs actions and that it must be filled with positive political developments in the coming days, weeks and months. "We reaffirmed to our colleagues in Leinster House that Sinn Fein is committed to ensuring the full and faithful implementation of the agreement in its entirety. And that includes the resolution of the issue of armed groups along with the issues of policing, demilitarisation, human rights and equality. "We have asked that all parties do all in their power to get the British and Irish government to produce a plan to ensure the full and faithful implementation of all aspects of the Agreement. We are hoping that today's bilateral meetings will be the beginning of a series of such meetings that will eventually enable us all to develop a truly all-Ireland parliamentary programme of work."

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