[Sinn Fein]

28th March 2003

Sinn Fein Ard Fheis 2003

Address by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD on a motion on Northern representation in the houses of the Oireachtas

Ní chóir go mbeadh an rún seo ar an gclár. Ba chóir go mbeadh na moltaí seo curtha i bhfeidhm ag an Rialtas i bhfad ó shin.

I propose Rún a dó on behalf of the Ard Chomhairle.

We should not have to place this motion on the clár of the Ard Fheis. People in the Six Counties should already be represented in the Oireachtas.

At the time of the Good Friday Agreement the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern asked the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution to consider how the people of the Six Counties might play a ``more active role in national political life''. It took the Committee from 1998 to last year to report on the issue.

In the meantime I have repeatedly called on the Taoiseach to act. Recently the Taoiseach said he agreed with the Committee's recommendation that MPs should have the right to speak in the Dáil. That was welcome but we need a pro-active engagement by the Taoiseach with all the parties to make this happen.

The All-Party Committee made a range of findings and recommendations and while they do not go as far as we would like, they provide a basis for progress.

Sinn Fein is seeking:

. Right of attendance at the Dáil for the 18 Westminster MPs elected in the Six Counties.

. Reform of the Seanad to include election by a national list system with people in the Six Counties having the right to vote.

. The right to vote in Presidential elections for citizens in the Six Counties.

Our message from this Ard Fheis to the Irish government is - stop the stalling, stop the waffling and get moving. You can't sit on the fence on this one, Bertie!

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