[Sinn Fein]

2 September 1997

Thompson remarks - outdated and reactionary

Sinn Fein Vice President Pat Doherty has reacted angrily to the `the outdated and reactionary remarks' of Unionist M.P. William Thompson.

Mr. Doherty said:

``The talks process which will begin on September 15th offers the first real opportunity for dialogue on the future of Ireland, a future that belongs to us all. Anyone who genuinely wants to build a future based on peace, justice and democracy on this island will seize this opportunity willingly and enter into negotiations with the representatives of all sections of the Irish people.

``Sinn Fein will go into talks as Irish republicans presenting our analysis that a united independent Ireland is the model which will best serve the interests of Ireland. The unionist and loyalist parties obviously have a different view. But dialogue hurts no one and no party should fear to argue their case.

``William Thompson's recent statements calling for his party leader to stay out of talks is not only a negation of his duty to those whom he represents, they are a symptom of unionism's desire to cling to an attitude and outdated era that is long gone. There will be no return to unchallenged Unionist rule, no return to a Stormont parliament dictated solely by Unionists. Unionists like Willie Thompson can no longer dictate to the nationalist people of the six counties and indeed of all of Ireland, that their views and wishes are of no consequence.

``We have an awesome task before us. I am convinced that the vast majority of people on this Island want us to succeed. Dialogue and negotiations, if they are to succeed, have to be on the basis of equality.

``Sinn Fein is a political party mandated by a significant section of people throughout Ireland, including over 11,000 people in West Tyrone. It is our right and our duty to represent those people. Just as it is the right and duty of the Unionist parties to represent those who voted for them. Sinn Fein will be in the talks on September 15th. We will articulate our views and we will demand the same respect for those views and our party representatives as are accorded to any other party. That is democracy.

``In the last number of years Mr. Thompson and his unionist colleagues adopted a pragmatic position and sat down with Sinn Fein representatives in Council Chambers across the six counties. In the last year Mr. Trimble, Mr. Paisley, Mr. Thompson and their colleagues took a decision to sit down talk with representatives of Loyalism.

``I would therefore appeal to David Trimble to take up his duty and responsibilities in all of this and accept the demands of his constituents to come to the negotiations on September 15th and find an accommodation which can secure the support of all our people.''

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