[Sinn Fein]

1 April 1998

British Constitutional Change Needed

Sinn Fein Alderman Sean Mac Manus tonight called for fundamental British constitutional change, including the repeal or amendment of the Act of Union.

Mr Mc Manus is a delegate at the Peace Talks in Castle Buildings and represents the party on the talks sub-committee dealing with confidence building measures.

Alderman Mac Manus said:

``Over the last few weeks there has been an entirely one sided focus on proposals to change the Irish constitution while ignoring key pieces of British Constitutional legislation which must be dealt with as part of any agreement. Fundamental constitutional change is required in relating to The Act of Union, The Government of Ireland Act 1920 and the N.I. Constitution Act 1973.

``These acts represent an aggressive exercise of jurisdiction by the British government to a part of Ireland. In nature and effect there are entirely from the legitimate, national democratic response to this interference in Irish affairs contained in the Irish constitution.

``If the Irish constitution is to be changed then it must ensure that the definition of the Irish national territory is not diluted and the constitutional imperative remains. Furthermore Irish citizens rights must be strengthened.

``Presently Irish citizens in the north have no way of participating in the political life of the nation. Citizens who do not wish their representatives to take an Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown have no forum which their representatives can go.

`` An important development from a northern nationalist point of view would be the right of participation in Irish political institutions. Irish citizens n the north should have the right to elect TDs to Leinster House and the representatives should be entitled to participate in all areas of government.

``The number of representatives that would have to be elected from the six counties according to the present norm would be a minimum of 54 and a maximum of 80. Irish citizens in the north should also have the right to vote in Presidential elections and referenda.

``Success in agreeing British constitutional changes will lay a solid foundation for the people of Ireland to transcend the divisions and strife on the past into a new and peaceful 21st century''.

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