[Sinn Fein]

19th February 2003

SDLP Position Becomes More Confused

Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh & South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew has again challenged the SDLP to explain the differing public statements being made by senior party members regarding the transfer of powers on policing and justice. Ms Gildernew's call comes after Patricia Lewsley again ignored the comments made on the issue by Seamus Mallon in the British House of Commons.

Ms Gildernew said: `` I challenged the SDLP to explain the different public positions being adopted by Mark Durkan, Alex Attwood and Seamus Mallon. Patricia Lewsley in reply choose to ignore entirely the comments made in the British House of Commons by Seamus Mallon.

`` Is Patricia Lewsley saying that Seamus Mallon is out of step with party policy? Is she saying that Mark Durkan's belief that the time was not right to transfer powers is out of step with party policy? If so she should say this, instead of simply articulating the view already given publicly by Alex Attwood.

`` Patricia Lewsley's response simply adds to the confusion surrounding the position of the SDLP on this matter. I am again challenging the SDLP to clarify the situation and explain exactly which senior party member is articulating SDLP policy. Otherwise the confusion surrounding their position on this crucial matter will continue to reign.''

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