[Sinn Fein]

23 November 1997

Sinn Fein TD to attend London meeting of British-Irish Parliamentary Body

Government of Ireland Act Challenged

Sinn Fein TD for Cavan/Monaghan Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has confirmed that he will be travelling to London next week to attend the plenary meeting of the British Irish Parliamentary Body of which he is now a member.

Deputy Ó Caoláin welcomed the nomination for which he expressed gratitude to the Independent and small-party members in Leinster House. The Sinn Fein TD has tabled a question to British Secretary of State Mo Mowlam which is due to be answered during the plenary meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Body on 1 and 2 December.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``This is the first time a Sinn Fein representative will attend the British-Irish Parliamentary Body. It will be a significant occasion and a new and welcome opportunity for dialogue.

``At this forum I will stress Sinn Fein's commitment to a just and lasting peace and the need for political and constitutional change in order to transform the relationship between Ireland and Britain.

``The current focus on Articles Two and Three has distracted from actual legislation under which the Six Counties are governed - the Government of Ireland Act and subsequent Westminster legislation. These acts are enforced by the British civil administration, the British Army and the RUC. Nearly 45% of the population of the Six Counties are governed under these constitutional provisions to which they have never given their consent.

``I have tabled a question to British Secretary of State Mo Mowlam which stresses the urgent need for progress on the issues of demilitarisation and political prisoners. I will focus in particular on the plight of Irish republican prisoners in English prisons.''

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