[Sinn Fein]

1st May 2003

Call for special Dáil debate

``Irish Government has bowed to Unionist veto'' - Ó Caoláin

Commenting on the British government's postponement of the Assembly elections, Sinn Fein Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, said the Irish Government has ``bowed to the unionist veto'' and he called for a special Dáil debate and Question and Answer session next week. He said:

``The British government's postponement of the Assembly elections is an insult to democracy in Ireland. They are denying the electorate their right to make a judgement on the conduct of the political parties in the peace process and they are reinforcing a unionist veto on progress.

``It is disgraceful that the Irish Government has also bowed to the Unionist veto. In chorus with Tony Blair, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has claimed that the clarifications sought and received from republicans are not enough for him. But the Taoiseach knows well that republicans are totally committed to the peace process and to the Good Friday Agreement. In reality all this is a desperate effort to protect David Trimble, despite the fact that he now leads a party that has effectively rejected the Agreement.

``The weakness of the Irish Government in the face of British government support for unionist intransigence is a major flaw in the peace process. I call on all nationalists and republicans, especially those in the 26 Counties, and especially rank and file members of Fianna Fáil, to call on the Taoiseach to assert the joint responsibility of both governments under the Agreement, to demand that Tony Blair reinstates the Assembly election and confronts the obstructionism of the Ulster Unionist Party.

``Sinn Fein is also calling for a special Dáil Debate and Question and Answer session with the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs next week.'' ENDS

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