[Sinn Fein]

3 February 1998

Assembly = Institutionalised Unionist Veto

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking this morning at Stormont said:

``I would like to make three points about all of the recent threats or alleged threats. Whether imaginary or not these cause real distress to those threatened and to their families and they should be withdrawn. We repudiate them. Secondly, the RUC should come clean about the validity and authenticity of these threats. And thirdly, the LVF, the only organisation to make a threat is the one which I think is causing real concern on a wider scale. I think the media need to be very careful about how they handle all of this.

``I think the case of Councillor Davidson is one which warrants particular investigation. Having talked to my colleague Martin McGuinness this morning I understand that Councillor Davidson is the only Ulster Unionist politician to call for direct talks between his party leader and Sinn FÈin. Is it not strange that he would then be threatened to the point where he is forced to leave Derry ?''

The Sinn Fein President rejected Ulster Unionist claims that Sinn FÈin did not engage in the discussion yesterday around an Assembly. Mr. Adams said:

``That is not true. We are opposed to an Assembly. But we have been quite open about discussing these issues because the Unionists want to. We have engaged in all of the strands in the talks. We have a view that an Assembly would institutionalise the unionist veto. We are quite concerned to establish, even in the context of cross border bodies, are these bodies to be subordinate to a Unionist dominated Assembly - to an Assembly in which there is an institutionalised unionist veto.

``The abuse of power by unionists, historically, in Belfast City Hall, and in other institutions raises many serious questions about the role of an Assembly within the north. Perhaps the unionists will today answer some of the questions we asked yesterday ?''

Answering a question on progress at the talks the Sinn Fein leader said:

``There has to be progress inside and outside the talks. Inside the talks the focus from the governments has been mostly on institutions and yesterday we had reams of documentation from the British government on Strand 1, while in the Strand 2 section we had very sparse documentation.

``Secondly, I have to say that there has been very little progress in discussing other matters, like the equality agenda, sovereignty, demilitarisation, including the release of all political prisoners, the democratic ethos which will guide all of this, and of constitutional change.''

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