[Sinn Fein]

5th March 2003

Progress made but ``disappointment'' at Irish Government position

Ó Caoláin calls for Dáil debate on peace process developments

Sinn Fein Dáil leader and spokesperson on the peace process, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin called for a special Dáil debate on the peace process following the talks at Hillsborough. He said that while substantial progress had been made over a range of issues there was disappointment that the Irish Government had supported the unionist and British government demand for sanctions which were ``unacceptable and totally outside the Agreement''.

Depouty Ó Caoláin said:

``The Dáil should this week debate developments in the peace process, including the postponement of the Assembly elections in the Six Counties and the disappointing position adopted by the Irish Government in the phase of talks just concluded at Hillsborough. The two governments have agreed on sanctions which would clearly be aimed at Sinn Fein. This is not acceptable and we have told the governments this. It is especially disappointing that the Irish Government has backed such a negative proposal.

``Sanctions will serve only to destabilize the process. The conduct of the Unionist Party since the Agreement was signed shows the potential for further disruption of the process which sanctions would create. We have seen repeated walkouts by David Trimble with the British government facilitating suspensions of the institutions on his behalf.

``Our negotiators have reported that progress has been made over a range of issues, including new legislation on Policing and Criminal Justice, demilitarisation, equality and human rights issues. There are also gaps and our party will have to assess in detail the position after the Hillsborough talks.'' ENDS

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