[Sinn Fein]

18 November 1996

Unionists proposal ``to lock out Sinn Fein'' criticised

Sinn Fein Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin today criticised weekend proposals from the main Unionist parties to veto progress, impede attempts to re-build the peace process and in their own words `to lock out Sinn Fein'.

Mr. McLaughlin said:

``Sinn Fein have a right, and our voters have a right to be involved in any process of negotiations on the basis of our electoral mandate.

``For some time now the leaderships of the main Unionist parties have made clear their intentions to prevent Sinn Fein involvement in a genuine process of negotiations. Last weekends proposals merely provide further evidence of their attempts to veto progress and impede efforts towards re-building the peace process.

``It is clear that Unionist politicians fear the prospect of genuine talks taking place and are frantically creating obstacles and preconditions in an attempt to prevent any such progress. It is now up to the British government to clearly state that there will be inclusive talks without pre-conditions. They must show their willingness to participate in creating the right conditions for a renewed peace process.

``For our part Sinn Fein will continue in our efforts to re-build the peace process. But in the words of the former Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, maybe now is the time to ask, who is afraid of peace?''

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