[Sinn Fein]

22nd February 2003

British Must Honour Demilitarisation Commitments

Speaking at a demilitarisation demonstration in Clogher this evening Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew said that levels of British army activity in the area were ``completely and totally at odds with the commitments entered into by the British government five years ago'. Ms Gildernew also called on the SDLP to prove that they genuinely sought demilitarisation.

Ms Gildernew said:

``Five years on from the Good Friday Agreement the people in Fermanagh and Tyrone see an increase in the British military presence in our towns and villages. Our young people are experiencing levels of harassment comparable to the days pre1994. None of this is acceptable. It was not just republicans who made commitments on Good Friday five years ago Tony Blair also made commitments then and since. Commitments which almost entirely have not been delivered upon. Tony Blair has failed to deliver on demilitarisation - indeed what he and his government have delivered is re-militarisation in many areas.

``At Weston Park a senior figure in the SDLP leadership proclaimed that demilitarisation was an issue only for Sinn Fein and the British government. Recently the SDLP have decided that they support demilitarisation. The question of whether or not this is a genuine conversion to the Sinn Fein position remains unanswered. One thing is for sure. Dusting down a three year old rationalization document produced by the old Police Authority and portraying it as demilitarisation is not the way forward.

`` The British have committed themselves to a demilitarisation program - not a rationalization program and Sinn Fein intend to hold them to that. If the SDLP are willing to support this then fine. But they should be warned. That nationalist and republican community will not accept being short changed on demilitarisation, in the same way in which they have refused to accept being short changed on policing after Weston Park.''

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