5 January 1999
SDLP comments `disappointing'
Sinn Fein Chairperson and Foyle assembly member, Mitchel McLaughlin expressing ``disappointment'' at comments from SDLP assembly member, Sean Farren suggesting that the SDLP would accept an extension to Easter of the February deadline for the formation of the Executive and the all-Ireland Ministerial Council.
Mr. McLaughlin said:
``Mr. Farren's acceptance that the February deadline for the formation of the Executive and the all-Ireland Ministerial Council can be extended to Easter is totally unacceptable. There has already been a two month delay in the formation of these bodies. Any further delay would undermine public credibility in the Good Friday agreement.
``Mr. Farren's apparent support for unionist efforts to elevate the decommissioning issue to a pre-condition and an obstacle to Sinn Fein's right to membership of the Executive and all-Ireland council is at variance with the letter of the Good Friday agreement.
``Mr. Farren's stand risks giving political cover to those unionists and others opposed to me setting up of the Executive and the all-Ireland Ministerial Council. Whether Mr. Farren is aware of it or not his statement is aiding the unionists in their plan to exclude Sinn Fein.
``This is clearly a worrying development given what happened during the negotiations before Christmas when Sinn Fein was also excluded.
``There is a responsibility on the SDLP and particularly on Seamus Mallon, as Deputy First Minister, to vigorously pursue the formation of the institutions within the time-frame and context of the Good Friday agreement.
``There is an imperative on Irish nationalists and republicans, who have been the driving force behind the peace process not to lose sight of the goal of a lasting peace settlement. The Good Friday agreement was the best deal we could all reach at this time. It must be implemented in full. Mr. Trimble gave his word. Everyone must ensure he keeps it and honours his commitments.''
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