[Sinn Fein]

30 October 1996

New Preconditions Absurd

Sinn Fein Party Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin, speaking in London today said:

``The most pressing issue facing the people of Ireland and the people of Britain is the creation of a lasting peace settlement and a resolution of the centuries old Anglo-Irish conflict.

``There is widespread disappointment throughout these islands, and internationally, that the opportunities of recent years have not taken root and have been allowed to wither away.

``It was the erection of preconditions by the British government which saw the rot set in and which subverted the potential of August 1994. To reconstruct that opportunity requires the removal of those preconditions and the scrapping of any plans to raise that hurdle higher for Sinn Fein by adding new preconditions.

``Those who would travel this road, like David Trimble, are for locking Sinn Fein out of the political process. Like David Burnside, a close associate of David Trimble, they believe that there is a section of nationalists ``who can never be dealt with and must be defeated''. For unionist leaders there can be no real dialogue, only victory. For unionist leaders there can be no agreement, only victory. The unionist leadership is like a school bully, who faced by a vacillating and ineffective head teacher, sees no reason why he shouldn't simply go on threatening and terrorising.

``Unhappily, there also appear to be elements within the British establishment which are similarly locked into a mindset which believes it can defeat republicans. British strategy has barely changed in that respect for generations.

One page to follow ``Clearly, this is the road back to the past - a violent past which has failed all the Irish and British people and which has made peace more difficult.

``Responsibility for moving us out of this quagmire lies with the two governments. They must provide the necessary leadership, as well as the structure for negotiations, which makes accommodation and agreement possible. This should be their unequivocal and urgent objective.

``John Major especially must rise above the party political pressures which surround him and move to establish a genuine process of negotiations which can bring about fundamental change. It would be absurd to introduce new preconditions. And every effort must be made to remove the existing preconditions and shape a process of negotiations, within a realistic time-frame, which reawakens the hope of two years ago.

``Sinn Fein remains absolutely committed to our peace strategy and a peace settlement inclusive of all sections of our people. That is the only way forward.'' ENDS

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