[Sinn Fein]

12 April 1996

Sinn Fein express concern

Sinn Fein Vice President Pat Doherty has expressed ``concern at the Taoiseach's narrow interpretation of Sinn Fein's criticism of his handling of the peace process and in particular of our attitude and of his, toward unionists and unionism.''

Mr. Doherty said:

``In the Joint statements between Gerry Adams and John Hume, which kickstarted the peace process both northern nationalist leaders accepted absolutely that any viable solution had to be based on agreement. They rejected the notion of victory or defeat having any part to play in a genuine peace process.

``Explicitly Adams and Hume agreed that we need to find an accommodation which can `earn and enjoy the allegiance of the difference traditions on this island, by accommodating diversity and providing for national reconciliation'.

``The current difficulty therefore does not arise over any ill-perceived `elitist' attitude by Republicans about who is or is not part of the Irish nation; rather it has to do with the British governments partisan endorsement of a pro-unionist agenda which is exclusive, sectarian and inflexible.

``Of course Mr. Bruton must listen and take cognisance of unionist opinion but he must also give equal time and weight to the views of nationalists. It is essential that he also recognise the negative and malign role of the London government in pursuing policies which have abused the process in the past and which continue to set back the goal of securing a real Irish consensus.

``A real peace process must seek to encourage dialogue between all of the parties to the conflict. Sinn Fein is not alone in its concerns at the current situation. We are asking for re-assurances that a meaningful and inclusive process of negotiations, without preconditions or vetoes, with no outcome predetermined or precluded and within an agreed and realistic timeframe, is genuinely being offered.

``Our goal is to make peace between all the people of this island. What is clearly required is a meaningful process of dialogue which can accommodate and reconcile the differences among the Irish people, and which begins now.''

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