[Sinn Fein]

16 May 1997

Sinn Fein Responds to Blair

Sinn Fein's Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP responding to today's speech by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair said ``Many nationalists will be disappointed by the pro-unionist emphasis in Mr. Blair's speech.''

Mr. McGuinness said:

``The opportunity for peace created in 1994 was squandered by the Major government.

``The recent election results have rekindled public hope and expectation of progress. The overall objective must be to remove the causes of conflict and establish a just and lasting peace.

``Sinn Fein's focus for some time has been on the restoration of the peace process by ensuring that a meaningful and inclusive process of negotiations is genuinely on offer.

``Of course in any negotiations Sinn Fein will represent and promote the Irish Republican analysis.''

Concerning Mr. Blair's reference to a meeting with government officials Mr. McGuinness said:

``Our renewed democratic mandate demands that we be involved in dialogue on the same basis as all other parties.

``While asserting our democratic rights and that of our electorate, we will take every opportunity, particularly with the two governments to address the core issues central to the creation of a meaningful and inclusive process of peace negotiations.''

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