[Sinn Fein]

23rd May 1999

Ulster Unionists must show leadership

Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness speaking on the first anniversary of the Referendum said it was past time for Ulster Unionists to show the leadership, which their people voted for last year.

Mr. Mc Guinness said:

The people of Ireland voted twelve months ago for a new beginning . In referenda in both parts of the island people called for change. 95% in the Twenty-six counties and 71.12%in the north and that support for its implementationas negotiated is still there.

Although the vote in favour of the agreement was higher in the Twenty -six counties , the vote in the north was even more significant. It was more significant because for the first time since partition, Unionists and Nationalists , Republican and Loyalists voted together in large numbers for political and constitutional change which would allow allof us to chart a fresh course into a better future together.

The majority of Unionists and Loyalists who consciously decided that the status quo could no longer be imposed on that large section of the community which is nationalist , took a very courageous and confident decision in giving their political leaders of Irish nationalism.

The Ulster Unionists, for twelve months, have refused to deliver on that mandate. Instead they have made themselves prisoners of the very people whom the grassroots of their community rejected in the referendum and the election to the assembly.

Time is running short but it is not yet too late for the ulster Unionists to take their courage from those in their community who voted for change- and implement the agreement as negotiated without further delay.

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