[Sinn Fein]

8 April 1997

Equality for all citizens

Statement from Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle member and candidate for Mid-Ulster, Martin McGuinness speaking at today's Sinn Fein press conference.

Mr. McGuinness said:

``The securing of national self-determination is central to the issue of peace and equality for all the people of this island. That is Sinn Fein's primary objective. Until that is realised Sinn Fein will campaign for equality of treatment for all citizens of this statelet.

``The issue of equality is pivotal to the achievement of democracy and peace. For too long successive British governments and Unionist parties have accepted less than real equality for nationalists. Sinn Fein has placed the issue of equality at the top of the political agenda. We are committed to keeping it there and we will enter negotiations seeking to secure equality of treatment and are determined to accept nothing less. Sinn Fein seeks equality for all citizens irrespective of their political allegiance. The nationalist electorate know that Sinn Fein can be depended on to ensure that this issue is pursued vigorously.

``The reality is that the six-county state was founded on discrimination, injustice and privilege for the unionist section of the people of this island. The consequences of this are evident today with Catholics still being over twice as likely to be unemployed; still under-represented in professional and higher paid jobs, harassed and victimised at work and denied basic human rights. This is most starkly evident in the way in which unwelcome orange marches are forced through nationalist areas.

``This sectarianism and double-standards exists at the highest level of government. This is obvious from the most recent case of discrimination being practised in Baroness Denton's office, the Minister responsible for implementing fair employment. It is also evident in John Major's attitude to the loyalist and unionist parties. There is a noticeable silence from 10 Downing Street when nationalists are killed, when British forces kill Irish civilians, when Catholic churches are burned or loyalists attack Sinn Fein. For many nationalists it appears that their lives and property are less important than other peoples lives and property.

``No-one asked nationalists for their consent to live in a sectarian state. We are Irish, living in Ireland, yet we are treated as if we are an ethnic minority living in a foreign country with no rights.

``Sinn Fein stands for change. We stand for democratic rights. We stand for:

``There is no going back to the days of unionist domination. We demand real and meaningful change. Sinn Fein will campaign with determination for Equality.''

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