[Sinn Fein]

20 August 1997

McLaughlin defends Sinn Fein Democratic Credentials

Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel Mc Laughlin responding to comments by Drew Nelson, Chairman of the Ulster Graduates Association, to UUP leader David Trimble that Sinn Fein are not a democratic party and that the UUP should not engage in talks with Sinn Fein,

Mr Mc Laughlin said:

``Mr Nelson instead of attacking Sinn Fein's commitment to democracy should take a look at his own party's track record. Given the long litany of non democratic practices and policies that the UUP have presided over since partition Mr Nelson and UGA are in no moral position to suggest how Sinn Fein should be treated. Sinn Fein is a democratic party holding over 43% of the nationalist electorate. That is the basis on which we are entering the talks process, Mr Nelson should acknowledge that and along with us and the other parties be working towards the creation of a real democracy for all of our people. In fact the UUP past track record calls into question their idea and notion of democracy rather than the commitment of Sinn Fein's. Nationalists who have been on the receiving end of these past policies certainly have more reasons than Mr Nelson and UGA in attempting to persuade other political representatives from engaging fully in the talks process come September 15th, yet the very opposite is the case. Mr Nelson should take a lesson from this.''

Mr Mc Laughlin continued:

``The situation is moving forward, the greater number of people on the island, including the majority of Unionists, and of popular political opinion abroad recognise that the only way forward is through fully inclusive negotiations am in doubt that Mr Trimble through his consultation process is also recognising this. Mr Nelson should also recognise this as a fact.''

Concluding Mr Mc Laughlin said:

``Mr Trimble should not be deflected by the UGA from his duties of delivering the wishes of the Unionist people which is that he lead his party into full and substantive negotiations.''

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