[Sinn Fein]

25th March 1999

Adams calls for Six County representation in the Oireachtas

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP today met with the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution to argue for the right of citizens in the Six Counties to send representatives to the Irish legislature. Mr. Adams said Irish citizens in the north are disenfranchised and denied a role in referenda and presidential elections. The irony is that if the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, were living in the Six Counties she would be disenfranchised. This is a situation that needs to be rectified.''

Mr. Adams said:

``Sinn Fein was the first party to raise the issue of the right of citizens in the Six Counties to send representatives to the Irish legislature. I raised it with the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, at the time of the conclusion of the Good Friday Agreement and we have promoted it vigorously ever since.

``As a republican MP I do not have a parliamentary forum which I can attend. The people I represent in West Belfast and those represented by Martin McGuinness in Mid-Ulster, are effectively disenfranchised at parliamentary level.

``For decades Northern nationalist representatives have not been allowed participation in the political institutions of the Southern state.

``We were gerrymandered into the Northern state and totally isolated and swamped at Westminster, even if we had been prepared to swear a repugnant oath of allegiance to a foreign monarchy.

``Tens of thousands of people in the Six Counties who have elected their parliamentary representatives as Irish legislators, rather than oath bound participants in the Westminster parliament, are denied access to a parliamentary forum.

``However much the situation may improve with the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement the establishment of a Northern assembly was not an objective of Irish nationalism. The cross-border institutions and implementation bodies will provide a new and positive executive outlet, but a democratic representational and consultative deficit remains.

``The All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution has an opportunity to take an important step towards ending that democratic deficit.

``Nationalists whom I represent are looking towards this Committee and towards legislators in this state to accord us equality of representation.''ENDS

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