[Sinn Fein]

9th February 2003

Irish government must demonstrate its commitment to the rights of every Irish citizen

Speaking at the annual Coen/Mac Manus Memorial Lecture in Sligo, Sinn Fein Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson has said that the Irish government must demonstrate its commitments to the rights of every Irish citizen.

Speaking in Sligo today Ms de Brún said:

"The Irish government has two opportunities next week to demonstrate that they will uphold the rights of all Irish citizens. One opportunity will be at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which will discuss the package of measures submitted by the British government in response to the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on 4 May 2001. It is a package of measures that is wholly inadequate.

"The Irish government has a duty of responsibility towards its citizens in this regard, and must stand by the families of those killed at Loughgall, the family of Patrick Shanaghan, the family of Pearse Jordan and the family of Gervaise McKerr.

I am calling on Minister Brian Cowen to ensure that the Irish government

"The other opportunity in this coming week will be at the talks, where they must remind the British government and Unionists of their commitments and impress upon them the need to defend and implement the Good Friday Agreement.

"For many nationalists and republicans there is a serious question mark over David Trimble's willingness, or indeed ability to lead Unionism in support of the Good Friday Agreement. What is clear however is that resistance to change has created yet another crisis in the process. "People throughout Ireland want to be convinced that unionism is facing up to its responsibilities, and that the present British government is about righting wrongs and ushering in a new dispensation based upon equality. In the present talks Sinn Fein are seeking the full implementation of the GFA as agreed by the British government and the unionists. Yet those same people are seeking more than was agreed, while commitments they have already entered into have not been honoured.

"We neither have the new beginning to policing, nor a criminal justice system that has the support of the whole community. The British government has put in place no rolling programme of demilitarisation. We do not have equality have or the promotion and protection of human rights. Vulnerable communities cannot live free from sectarian harassment as we saw once again in North Belfast last night.

"While loyalist death squads wage war on the catholic community and each other, the British government and the UUP continue to focus on the IRA.  While we hear much speculation in the media, therefore about significant moves by the IRA, this is hardly the climate in which such moves could be expected.

Sinn Fein will continue to play our part in implementing the Good Friday Agreement, but others must play their part also. The two governments must defend the Agreement they signed up to and all aspects of that Agreement must be implemented.

In a specific reference to recent media speculation about a possible move from the IRA, Ms de Brún added:

As Gerry Adams said in Belfast yesterday - Is this the climate for a significant move by the IRA? I hardly think so. Does any one think there will be movement unless everyone moves? Unless the British government honours its obligations?"

Fón: 028 9052 1473   ·   Mobile 07718 924168
E-mail: nedcohen@hotmail.com   ·   Website: http://www.sinnfein.org

Sinn Fein   ·   Sinn Fein Documents