[Sinn Fein]

16th April 2003

Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle get detailed report on current developments

Speaking at a meeting of the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle in Juilianstown, Co. Meath this evening, Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said:

`` This evenings meeting of the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle is an opportunity to update our party leadership on the developing situation within the peace process, and around our efforts to secure the publication by the two governments of the Joint Declaration. In this respect contact with the two governments is continuing even as we meet here this evening.

`` The substance of the Good Friday Agreement is about the rights and entitlements of citizens. The purpose of the Joint Declaration should ensure that those rights and entitlements not yet achieved after five years become a reality in the time ahead. The rights and entitlements of any citizen cannot be subject to vetoes or preconditions. Peace with justice means equality, respect and human dignity for everyone.

`` Sinn Fein's focus is on building on the significant progress that we have made in our negotiations with the governments in recent days and weeks. And on the opportunity presented by the IRA statement that was passed to the governments at the weekend. Regrettably, in my view there are those within unionism and within the British system who are still locked into the old agenda - who want to demolish the peace process not build it.

`` One of the difficulties in this negotiation is that the unionists have left their negotiation to the British government. There is no clarity or certainty around UUP intentions. Incidentally, there is no certainty of completion in the Joint Declaration. It is full of conditionality within a protracted process. The IRA statement is clear and unambiguous. Even the British government has acknowledged that it shows the desire of the IRA to make the peace process work. That is an unprecedented development.

`` It should be built on. The two governments should publish their Joint Declaration; the British government should lift the suspension of the institutions and move to the election of a new Assembly.''

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