[Sinn Fein]

28th May 2003

Britain denies democracy in Ireland once again

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin today Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said:

``We  are  here  one day before the day elections were supposed to be held in theSix  Counties.   We  should  now all, at least all the media in the Six Countiesshould  be  bound by the pre-election moratorium on broadcasting.  The people ofthe  Six  Counties should be preparing to go to the polls.  They should be aboutto  exercise their democratic rights and indeed obligations.  And at least a fewcandidates or existing MLAs across all parties should be starting to sweat aboutthe possible outcome of that election.

``However,  it  is  not  to be.  Democracy has been once again denied in Ireland.The British Government has unilaterally, not only suspended the institutions andthe  Assembly,  but  they have gone a significant step further by cancelling theelections altogether.

``This  is  Britain's  response to a crisis in the peace process ? to a crisis inconfidence.  Where else in the world would you get it?

``In  any normal democratic society, a crisis in the political institutions wouldlead  directly  to  elections  to  establish  a  fresh mandate for the politicalparties.  That is the way of democracy.  That is the way of politics.

``To make conflict a thing of the past and to allow politics to work there has tobe a viable political, democratic and peaceful alternative to war.  The logic ofthis  was  accepted not only in the Good Friday Agreement itself but also in therecently published Joint Declaration.

``The  British  government  had  no  right to cancel elections in Ireland and theIrish  government  and  indeed  all  the parties in Leinster House were right tooppose  their decision.  But that opposition can't be just token opposition ? itmust be real and vocal opposition.

``The  Irish  government's  status  as  a  joint and co-equal partner in the GoodFriday  Agreement  has  to  be  restored, recognised and defended.  Accepting ormeekly  going  along  with  the  British  decision  is  aiding the subversion ofdemocracy that their actions represent.

``The  key to making politics work is democracy.  That means that people have theright to vote.  It means elections and it means elections immediately.

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