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November 24, 2004

News 11/24/04 - SF Week In Review

Sinn Fein
The Week in Review
15 to 22 November 2004

Sinn Féin tell governments any agreement must be bedded in the Good
Friday Agreement

On 24 November a Sinn Fein delegation including party President
Gerry Adams, Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness, National
Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin and Fermanagh & South Tyrone MP
Michelle Gildernew held a meeting in London with Taoiseach Bertie

Speaking after meeting the Taoiseach at the Irish Embassy, Mitchel
McLaughlin said the objectives in the `intense discussions with the
two governments' had been, first, to get the DUP to `come on board
a comprehensive agreement'; and second, to `ensure both governments
remain faithful to the Good Friday Agreement'.

He added, `These points are particularly important today given that
Ian Paisley is responding to the outline presented by the two
governments. In response to this it is important that the
governments insist that any agreement reached must be bedded in and
aimed at the delivery of the Good Friday Agreement.'

The previous week had seen other meetings, including on 17
November, when Gerry Adams led a party delegation in discussions
with the Taoiseach, the Irish minister for Foreign Affairs and
other senior Irish government representatives. Gerry Adams said
that they had made the points that any viable proposals for forward
movement had to be `firmly grounded in the Good Friday Agreement.'
If concerns were adequately addressed, he said, `there could be the
basis for a comprehensive agreement' and Sinn Féin would `continue
to work to achieve that objective'.

Sinn Fein Chairperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin MLA was meanwhile in
London on 17 November, where he said it was incumbent on the two
governments to `make clear how they intend to move the process on'
if the DUP persisted in `unrealistic' demands, recognised by the

He added, `the two governments should recognise an opportunity to
demonstrate to unionist and other sceptics that power sharing is
not only the essential option, but is indispensable to the delivery
of a stable political and economic future on this island'.

He said the Irish government should `assert its position as an
equal partner with the British government in whatever decisions are
taken to move the process forward' if agreement between the parties
wasn't possible.

He outlined a number of mechanisms that could `create the basis
from which both Governments could implement an agreed governmental
power sharing agenda in keeping with the spirit of the GFA' and
commit to a `power sharing programme for government' in the absence
of one party refusing to participate in a power-sharing executive.
This would include the following elements:

:: Human rights and equality

:: A review of the human rights and equality commissions

:: The establishment of an all-Ireland joint parliamentary forum
consisting of MP's, MLAs and TDs to oversee the power sharing

:: A review of the areas of cooperation, the role of implementation
bodies and the expansion of their number and remit to all areas of
mutual benefit

:: The establishment of a joint committee of the two human rights
commissions, north and south.

:: The establishment of an all-Ireland charter of human rights (in
line with the Good Friday Agreement)

:: A Reconciliation and truth recovery programme

:: A programme of demilitarisation

:: The implementation of all areas of common chapter; identifying
timetables and frameworks

Peace Dividend must underpin work of any new executive

On 22 November Sinn Fein Vice President, West Tyrone MP raised the
issue of the `vital role' of a peace dividend fund to tackle the
legacy of under investment, discrimination and disadvantage, in
underpinning the ability of any new executive to deliver on the

Mr Doherty said a `legacy of under investment across every part of
our infrastructure' including roads, schools, hospitals and
railways over thirty years had to be addressed, alongside `a
damming legacy of discrimination, inequality and disadvantage'.

He said the solution was not for the British government to increase
the tax burden on people through water charges or rates increases,
but for the British government `to accept its responsibility to
compensate for this under investment'.

He said a `genuine Peace Dividend' would support the work of a new
executive and its ability to `deliver on the ground'. Sinn Fein had
consistently called for this, and during the lifetime of the
executive had argued for `a radical challenge to the Barnett

He called for the British government to commit to `a significant
peace dividend' and criticised the UUP and SDLP for agreeing to
water charges and increased rates, and for these to be reversed.

Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin and Fermanagh South Tyrone MP
Michelle Gildernew also raised the issue at a meeting with
Secretary of State Paul Murphy in London on 23 November. The
meeting also discussed the issue of party policy research grants,
currently denied to the party, and the Independent Monitoring
Commission derived sanctions directed against the Sinn Fein Féin

Inquiries must match families' demands

On 16 November British Secretary of State Paul Murphy announced the
details of the inquiries into the deaths of Robert Hamill, Rosemary
Nelson and Billy Wright.

Sinn Féin justice spokesperson, Gerry Kelly MLA, said that there
had been a stalling by the British Government over the commitment
to an independent inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane, and that
had to be delivered, including publishing the terms of reference

He said Sinn Fein would consider in detail the remit and terms of
reference being afforded to the inquiries announced. The
announcement that Michael Morland would chair the Rosemary Nelson
inquiry would not, he said, inspire confidence `given his
involvement acting for the Crown in internment without trial cases
in 1973'. Mr Morland was, he said, also involved in 1976 with the
Gardiner commission which removed special category status for
prisoners `and introduced the criminalisation policy'.

He conclude that the families in the cases had `campaigned for many
years for the establishment of independent inquires into the deaths
of their loved ones' and that it was essential that the inquiries
announced met the demands of the families and achieved the
confidence of the community.

British government must give Human Rights Commission the powers it

Speaking on 17 November, Sinn Fein equality, human rights and
women's spokesperson Catríona Ruane MLA, called on the British
government to introduce the proper range of powers required by the
Human Rights Commission.

The call came in advance of hearings being carried by the United
Nations Committee on Torture to scrutinise the British government's
treaty obligations and in many instances, its failure to comply
with human rights and equality issues in the north of Ireland.

Ms Ruane said it was `unacceptable' that six years after the Good
Friday Agreement was signed the Human Rights Commission had again
`had to make representation to the United Nations about the British
government's obstruction of its work by its refusal to provide the
Commission with the appropriate powers'.

She said `state collusion, the continuing use of non- jury courts,
plastic bullets and repressive legislation should have been
relegated to the dustbin as a result of the Good Friday Agreement,
yet the British government is eroding individual and collective
rights by maintaining them'.

Sinn Féin had raised these, and issues `such as the need for
accountable and representative policing and criminal justice
systems with the United Nations during its last hearing and only
last week we met with the Council of Europe's Human Rights
Commissioner to voice our concerns across similar matters'.

She said the Human Rights Commission had to be provided with `the
proper range of powers it requires to fulfil its remit to protect
and promote human rights in an effective way.' The failure to do
this had `plagued the Commission since its inception'.

She also raised the issue of women prisoners held at Hydebank Wood
Young Offenders Centre, also being raised at the UN, and which the
Commission could not access `because it does not have this specific
power'. She concluded: `without these basic powers any incoming
Human Rights Commission will be undermined before it begins.'

Sinn Féin councillors threatened

On 23 November South Belfast Assembly member Alex Maskey said that
former party councillor Sean Hayes was was visited at his home in
the Markets area and informed by the PSNI that a death threat along
with a recognised code word had been telephoned into the BBC
offices in Belfast, informing him that he would be killed within 48
hours. Mr Maskey said `the Red Hand Defenders has of course in the
past been a flag of convenience used by the UDA. It is deeply
concerning that this UDA cover name has once again resurfaced only
a week after the British Secretary of State proclaimed that the UDA
was on cessation once again.'

Meanwhile, on 22 November, Sinn Féin Lagan Valley Representative
Cllr Paul Butler was also informed by the PSNI that a package
containing a white powder addressed to him had been intercepted by
the Post Office.

Cllr. Butler said this was `the latest in a campaign of
intimidation and violence directed towards my family and myself'
which had been `directly linked to the UDA in Lisburn and relates
to my continued opposition to discrimination and bigotry within
Lisburn council'.

Coleraine attack carried out by loyalist paramilitaries

On 24 November a loyalist attack took place on the home of an
eldery woman in Coleraine. Local Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard
described the attack as the latest in a line of intimidation
against the woman's family.

He said loyalist paramilitaries in Coleraine had `shown themselves
incapable' of accepting nationalists and republicans in the area,
and a time when others were `working towards human rights, a fair
deal for all and a society in which incidents such as this are a
thing of the past'.

Sinn Féin supports calls for a positive and progressive EU

Speaking in advance of the vote on 18 November on the incoming
European Commission, Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald said the party
believed `another Europe is possible, where the rights of nations
and peoples are respected and promoted, where quality health care
and education are available to all, where civil liberties are
protected, and where the EU plays a positive and progressive role
in tackling developing world debt and promoting conflict
resolution'. She said Sinn Féin supported calls for a progressive
EU Commission which would impact positively on those inside and
outside Europe's borders in terms of democracy and social and
economic policies.

She said Jose-Manuel Barosso had `failed to bring forward such a
European Commission' and therefore both she and party colleague
Bairbre de Brún MEP would not be supporting the European Commission
- designate.

Ms McDonald said the EU was going through `immense change'
including debating and voting on key issues such as the EU
Constitution. She said there was a `real opportunity', to come
forward with an EU Commission which was `open and progressive and
which could impact positively on those inside and outside Europe's
borders'. Unfortunately this did not happen, she added.

Sinn Féin voted against the European Commission over `deep concern'
with the `political and policy complexion' of the incoming

Sinn Fein had, in its election manifesto, set out `a clear and
radical vision of a Europe based on principles of equality,
justice, and human rights' and opposed the `continued erosion of
public services and social welfare provision Europe wide and the
role, which the EU is playing in this regard'.

She said the September hearings with MEPs had seen many of the
proposed Commissioners outline support for social and economic
policies `which will actively undermine equality, justice and
social solidarity'. There were also a number of proposed European
Commissioners `who have serious questions to answer with respect to
their roles when Ministers in their own countries'.

Week in Review is circulated by Sinn Fein MPs. Telephone 020 7219
8162. Email or visit

Jay Dooling (
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