[Sinn Fein]

7th January 2003

`Next six to eight weeks critical' - Martin McGuinness MP

Speaking before his meeting in London on Wednesday with British Prime Minister, Tony Blair the Mid-Ulster MP and Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator, Martin Mc Guinness said:

``The Next six to eight weeks will probably be the most critical period the north has seen in the last thirty years. It is crucial that politicians here adopt a positive agenda and collective approach over the coming months to end the political impasse.

I would caution that the political process is entering a critical time ahead of the Assembly elections in May and urge all parties to move forward together. The elections must go ahead, any suspension would effectively be a suspension of the democratic process and would be very damaging indeed.

I think all of us at the heart of this process know the best way to go forward is to try and resolve our problems over the course of the coming six to eight weeks and to move forward together with a very positive agenda into those elections.

Politicians here must develop a positive and constructive frame of mind. It's going to require, I think, a collective approach over the course of the next couple of months that I believe will be the most critical period that we have seen in the course of the last thirty years.''

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