[Sinn Fein]

7th July 2003

McGuinness Addresses London audience

Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator Martin Mc Guinness speaking at a meeting in London this evening outlined the next steps required to put the political process back on course. During a two day visit to London Mr Mc Guinness will seek support for elections in the North of Ireland in meetings with Diplomats and briefings with the Foreign and American Press Associations as well as the British media.

Giving the keynote address to a London gathering this evening Mr. Mc Guinness said:

``Central to all of our efforts at this time must be in convincing Tony Blair and the British government of the serious blunder it was to cancel the Assembly elections. I believe that the unilateral action of the British government was ill-advised and undermines the efforts of those working tirelessly to convince and bring on board those that are still disaffected from the political process. I will be asking all those whom I meet while in London to lend their support to this campaign and to use their influence with the British government to end this denial of democracy.

``For too long the two governments have pandered to the worst elements of anti Agreement unionism resulting in the undermining of an Agreement which was endorsed by the majority of people in Ireland. The same effort, which has been put into stalling, managing and suspending progress over the last five years, needs to be directed into active support for the full implementation of the Agreement. This is an effort, which must be led by the two governments, particularly the British government.

``I believe that Mr. Blair made a serious mistake in cancelling the Assembly elections, in effect saying to the world that democracy in the Six Counties is subject to the will of anti-Agreement unionists. The right to vote is just that - a basic right and cannot be subject to any preconditions. I am calling on the governments to end the stalling and set the election date now.

The only thing that Mr Blair achieved by firstly suspending the political institutions and then cancelling the election was to disempower the pro-Agreement Parties and give encouragement to the rejectionists. This action must be reversed and an early Autumn date set for elections to renew mandates that will re-empower those of us that wish this process to succeed.''

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