[Sinn Fein]

21 November 1997

Para troop withdrawal `small step in right direction'

SF warns of ``malevolent'' British agencies intent on resuming war

A Sinn Fein member of the Confidence Building Measures (CBM) sub committee at the Northern Talks process has welcomed the withdrawal of 200 British paratroopers as `` a small step in the right direction which must be followed by others without undue delay.''

Mr Seán Crowe a Dublin member of the four strong Sinn Fein CBM team at the talks, was speaking in Tallaght yesterday (Saturday) after the inaugral meeting of the CBM forum this week.

He said that not only must the ``provocative military and paramilitary RUC presence be visibly reduced at grassroots level'' but there must be urgent moves on the issues of prisoners, parity of esteem, the Irish language, and equality of opportunity for nationalists in social and economic fields.

Mr Crowe said:

``The withdrawal to England of the notorious 3 Parachute regiment is long overdue, but the pull out of 200 soldiers still leaves the overall troop level higher than before the second IRA cease-fire was called (10,516 now; 10395 in July).''

Mr Crowe said that the CBM element at the talks could provide a ``hotline'' for communities ``not a safety valve'' if it acts as an effective mechanism through which they can have their grievances addressed'' For faith to be injected into the flagging peace process, Mr Crowe said, the British government needs to replace its current security agenda with a peaceful political agenda.

``Otherwise the entire process could be brought down by the actions of malevolent agencies on the British side who have a vested interest in conflict and who want to stymie attempts at conflict resolution.'' ENDS

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