[Sinn Fein]

9th February 2003

All Ireland politics the present and the future

Sinn Fein Chairperson and Foyle MLA Mitchel McLaughlin speaking in Derry this morning said that he welcomed the decision of Fianna Fáil to investigate the possibility of becoming an all Ireland party. He said that all Ireland progress represents the present and the future for all of us on the island. Mr McLaughlin was speaking in response to comments by John Hume at the weekend and reports that the Labour Party is also to begin organising in the north

Mr McLaughlin said:

"Despite the difficulties which we now face the Good Friday Agreement changed politics on the island forever. Not only did it recognise that partition had failed, it agreed to establish a series of political institutions to allow us to move forward on an all island basis. These include the North South Ministerial Council and the All Ireland Implementation Bodies which are now functioning and the all Ireland Civic Forum, all Ireland Parliamentary Forum and of course northern representation in the Oireachtas that have yet to come into being.

"It is broadly accepted that an all Ireland approach across a whole range of issues makes sense. Whether it is sport, the economy or politics there are hundreds of successful working examples eg: rugby, tourism and of course, the development of my own party.

"It is clear that even while we are working towards Irish unity there will be many more all Ireland initiatives and developments. And in this changing political situation it makes absolute sense for all parties on the island, sooner rather than later, to examine how this will impact on their structures."

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