[Sinn Fein]

3 February 1998

Sinn Fein actively engaged in Strand 1 discussions

Sinn Fein Party Negotiator Bairbre de Brun speaking after today's meeting at Stormont said:

``Sinn Fein has been actively engaged in the discussions in Strand 1 over the last few days. Our opposition to an Assembly has been cynically misrepresented as a non-engagement. On the contrary we asked those who believe an assembly is a good idea or have any contribution to make to give us their reasons. So far they have failed to respond adequately to the points we have raised.

``Today the UUP responded to some of our questions directly and we welcome that but it cannot be described as a real engagement, or as the beginning of real negotiations on the substantive issues. It was a useful exchange of views. Their responses did not allay the fears that we have that any new Assembly would be a return to unionist domination and discrimination.

``In their submission to Strand 1 in October the UUP described an Assembly as a level of administration between Westminster and local government in the north, which would have no legislative responsibility initially. They ignored the rest of the island. This has remained their position.

``During todays discussions incredibly David Trimble said there was no discrimination against nationalists, just disadvantage. He also said he was against the recommendation that membership of the all-Ireland body is a `duty of service'. And unionists refused to answer whether an all-Ireland body would be subordinate to a unionist dominated assembly.''

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