21 August 1996
Equality should top British agenda
Sinn Fein Chairperson, Mitchel McLaughlin, commenting on the issue of equality for all within the six counties and also within the peace process, said:
``In a few weeks time, the talks at Stormont are due to recommence. There is little confidence that in their present form these talks can be meaningful while the British government continues to exclude Sinn Fein and permits the unionists to have a veto over progress.
``The British government and the main Unionist parties placed obstacles in the way of a negotiated settlement and during the marching season, particularly at Drumcree, the Orange Card was played and the British government caved in to unionist demands
``However nationalists will insist that the British government honours its responsibilities in the area of nationalists' rights. The British and Irish governments have publicly committed themselves to equality of treatment for all those who live in the Six Counties. They must follow through on this commitment.
``The Unionist parties' opposition to any change is reinforced by the British government's failure to implement an agenda which will bring change in the everyday lives of nationalists.
``People's rights are not negotiable nor can they be subject to the whim of any political party. They exist as of right. There is an urgent need for positive proof that nationalist's rights and allegiances have parity of esteem. This means that all citizens and the political parties they chose to represent them are treated equally.''
``An agenda of change initiated by the British government should deal with the following issues:
- equality of opportunity in employment
- equality of treatment of the Irish culture and identity
- equality of treatment of elected representatives and voters
- proper security provision for all citizens according to need
- equality in the provision of education, particularly through the medium of Irish
- equality of treatment in economic development.''
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