[Sinn Fein]

7 October 1997

Resignation of Ray Burke

Commenting on the resignation of Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ray Burke, Sinn Fein TD for Cavan Monaghan Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

``On behalf of Sinn Fein I would like to record our appreciation of the positive role played by Ray Burke in the peace process. He helped to steer the process towards the substantive talks which have finally come to pass.

``The priority for Sinn Fein and the priority for everybody concerned with the success of the peace process should not be the personalities of the Irish government delegation at Stormont but the policies and principles they advance there.

``It is essential that the national interest is promoted at the talks. The failure of partition, the need for fundamental political and constitutional change, the constitutional imperative to move towards Irish unity and sovereignty, the need to end the union with Britain - these should be the absolute priority of the government in the talks. This will be the task of whomever is chosen to succeed Mr. Burke.

``On the controversies which have precipitated this resignation we need to put them in perspective. Citizens have been told by successive administrations that their act is being cleaned up and that they want to restore the reputation of politics and politicians in the eyes of the public. But the current and apparently ongoing revelations undermine these promises and reveal a political culture where the wealthy are rewarded for their connections with those in government and vice versa. It's not a question of certain politicians giving all the rest a bad name. The issue is one of policy. Policies and practices which favour the haves against the have nots will always be implemented by politicians who represent the haves.

``It is unfortunate that this resignation has overshadowed the commencement today at Stormont of the most important talks since partition on the future of the country. The success of the negotiations should be the continuing priority of all of us.

``In conclusion I offer my sympathy to Ray Burke on the recent bereavement in his family.''

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