[Sinn Fein]

14th December 1998

Urgent Progress Needed

Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness speaking this morning at Stormont said:

``Sinn Fein has a strong negotiating team up at Stormont today, including Party President Gerry Adams MP, Martin McGuinness MP, Mitchel McLaughlin, Bairbre de Brun and Gerry Kelly.

There are three steps which now need to be taken urgently almost 8 months after the Agreement was reached. These are the establishment of the Executive; the establishment of the All-Ireland Ministerial Council, and the establishment of All-Ireland Policy and Implementation bodies.

We are here to ensure that agreement is concluded this week on the number and designation of departments, and the number and remit of the policy and implementation bodies. This is necessary to ensure that we can move speedily on to the establishment of the necessary structures as set out, agreed and promised in the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Fein is seeking 10 departments. These are: Equality; Agriculture and Fisheries; Economic Development; Health and Social Services; Education; Environment and public services; Infrastructure and Development; Finance and Legal Services; Tourism, arts, culture and heritage; and Training, Employment and Social Security.

We are also looking for a minimum of 7 policy and implementation bodies. These should include: an Irish language promotion body; an All-Ireland investment agency; a trade promotion and indigenous company development body; a Training and employment agency; operation of EU common policy; an EU programmes implementation body; an All-Ireland Tourism Body.

We want to see conclusion on these matters. Unionists want to undermine the equality and inclusive of the process and to hollow out the substance of the all-Ireland structures. Specifically they are attacking the equality department, and the all-Ireland Irish language body and the all-Ireland Economic Development body. These are crucial for nationalists.

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