British approach to Agreement `tactical' - McGuinness
British approach to Agreement `tactical' - McGuinness

Sinn Féin's Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness said today that in the five years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed, there had been ``delay, foot dragging and inaction'' in many areas where the British government has direct responsibility.

``These difficulties are rooted in the British government's tactical approach to the Agreement,'' he said, speaking ahead of the start of the review of the Agreement next week.

The wide-ranging review is expected to take between one and three months. Hardline unionist opponents of the Agreement, led by the DUP's Ian Paisley, are seeking to scrap or renegotiate the accord, which was backed by over 80% of the people of Ireland in dual referenda on both sides of the border in 1998.

Speaking at the launch of a document calling for an all-Ireland charter of rights in Belfast, McGuinness said: ``Since the Agreement we have had Weston Park and the negotiations leading to the publication of the Joint Declaration by the two governments as well as the discussion leading up to the unprecedented moves by republicans of October 21st when the two governments and unionism again failed to deliver. We have not seen the British government embrace political, economic, social, and cultural rights. They can't even bring themselves to publish the Cory report.

``If we are to see progress when the review starts next week then the British government must challenge and reconsider its own approach to the Agreement.

``Sinn Féin believe that we can come to the review in a positive frame of mind but that requires that everyone accept that many aspects of the Agreement have not been implemented.

``It demands in particular that the two governments and especially the British government accept their responsibility in honouring commitments on delivering the human rights and equality commitments that it has made.''

Sinn Féin's document, called `Rights for All', also reitrerates the right of the people in Ireland to national self determination. It also called for the right to vote and hold political office to be extended to people aged 16 and over on both sides of the border. It also proposes:

* The Government of Ireland should be democratically elected and drawn from representatives chosen by the people.

* Women and minorities should be given full, fair and equal participation in public life including decision making processes and having access to power.

* All public policies should be equality proofed, poverty proofed and human rights proofed and based on best practice around the world.

* There should be no domination of one section of society by another -- everyone should be equal under the law and not be discriminated against for any reason.

The full text of the document is published later in this issue.


Meanwhile, the UUP leader David Trimble has said the DUP and its supporters had to realise that stable institutions in the north could only be built with the joint support of nationalists and unionists.

He said that to date most of the the DUP ``rhetoric'' had been opposed to sharing and instead sought ``separation from the other''.

``This is a fundamental issue which the DUP must face or else confess that they cannot provide the leadership unionism needs,'' Mr Trimble said.

More than 30 members of Mr David Trimble's own constituency association walked out in a mass resignation at the weekend.

They resigned at the annual meeting of the Ulster Unionist Association in the traditionally hardline Upper Bann constituency, the scene of a no-confidence vote against the party leader last July.

Trimble has remained defiant despite losing some support following the departure of party rival, the anti-Agreement Jeffrey Donaldson to the DUP.

During a speech to Strangford Ulster Unionist Constituency, the UUP leader said expectations were not high but it appeared that the review would begin with the ``remarkable'' sight of Mr Paisley sitting at the same table as all the other parties, which of course will include Sinn Féin.

``One cannot help but ask who would have believed it had we, during the election, predicted such an event,'' Mr Trimble said.

``One also cannot help but wonder if the DUP vote would have been so high if they had told the electorate that the u-turn on sitting down with Sinn Féin would begin almost immediately after the election.

``No doubt they will explain by saying that they are not actually negotiating with Sinn Féin. But this is all a familiar part of the process whereby they conceal from their core support the truth about their actions.''

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