10 April 1996
Adams responds to British government election paper
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has this morning sent the party's response to the British government's recent paper ``Designation of Parties for the Forthcoming Election in Northern Ireland''.
Mr. Adams made clear Sinn Fein's opposition to:
The Sinn Fein President spelt out Sinn Fein's support for:
Mr. Adams concluded:
``Sinn Fein remains committed to our peace strategy and to building a viable peace process. The proposals we are dealing with in this paper show no sign that the British government are prepared to join in the search for a just and lasting peace in Ireland.''
The following is the full text of Sinn Fein's response which was sent this morning to Michael Ancram:
Sinn Fein Response
to the British Government paper,
``Designation of Parties for the
Forthcoming Election in Northern Ireland''
Introduction The idea of an election, as a precondition to negotiations, and a Stormont assembly is, in the history of the peace process, a recent one. It was first proposed by David Trimble at the Unionist Party conference on October 21st 1995. It was supported only by the Alliance Party but opposed by the entire spectrum of nationalist opinion throughout Ireland as unnecessary and divisive. Indeed the Taoiseach, John Bruton pointed out that elections prior to negotiations was akin to pouring petrol on a fire. This proposal is designed to inhibit and delay the negotiations which are essential to a just and lasting peace in Ireland.
This remains Sinn Fein's view. We are implacably opposed to elections before, or as a precondition to negotiations. We will have no part in any attempt to construct a unionist dominated assembly at Stormont.
The Mitchell Report
The Report by the International Body mentioned an elective process in one paragraph out of 62 and as one of a number of confidence building measures. The British government has chosen to ignore the rest of the series of confidence building measures suggested by the International Body. It has done so in a way which is at odds with the letter and the spirit of the International Body's recommendations which referred only to the possibility that ``If it were broadly acceptable, with an appropriate mandate, and within the three-stranded structure, an elective process could contribute to the building of confidence''
The British government's proposals fail to meet these criteria. They are not broadly acceptable and they will do nothing to contribute to the building of confidence. On the contrary, this proposal has eroded confidence among nationalists in the peace process. Sinn Fein has not even been consulted, our electorate has been denied its democratic right to have its opinion heard. The elective process with its inbuilt unionist assembly is a clear indication that the British government has adopted wholesale the unionist agenda.
Sinn Fein rejects the notion we have to renew our mandate or that a renewal of mandates is necessary to move to all-party negotiations. This is a patent nonsense. The elective process and the forum it will create are in fact a further precondition to peace talks and contain within them the potential for further obstruction.
The reality is that Sinn Fein has an electoral mandate, a mandate which the British government refuses to recognise, a mandate which the British government refused to recognise even over the 18 months of the IRA cessation.
Sinn Fein has a democratic right to represent our electorate at any talks about the future of our country. By refusing to recognise our electoral mandate, the British government is indulging in a selective and conditional application of democratic principles which is, of course, the very antitheses of real democracy.
Designation of Parties
Sinn Fein also objects to the British governments designation of political parties which can participate in this election. This is a matter of the electorate alone. There should therefore be no attempt to restrict or exclude any political party.
An elected forum
The elected forum which will emerge from these elections is an attempt to limit the negotiations within a partitionist context and is a blatant attempt to influence and predetermine the outcome of those negotiations. It is clear at this stage that the British government intends to give the forum a veto over the negotiations process.
A return to Stormont in any form is unacceptable to nationalist opinion in Ireland. It is a retrograde step which will obstruct the commencement of real negotiations and hinders the search for a just and lasting peace in Ireland.
What is required at this time is that the British government give clear, public, specific and unambiguous assurances that these negotiations will be inclusive and comprehensive, with no item on the agenda allowed to become an insurmountable obstacle to progress and to be conducted within an agreed timeframe.
Sinn Fein is opposed to:
Sinn Fein is for:
Sinn Fein remains committed to our peace strategy and to building a viable peace process. The proposals we are dealing with in this paper show no sign that the British government are prepared to join in the search for a just and lasting peace in Ireland.
Sinn Fein Press Office, 44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Released in the US by:
Friends of Sinn Fein, 510 C Street, NE, Washington DC 20002