Irish Republican News · January 21, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Pressure on British ahead of review

Irish foreign minister Brian Cowen tomorrow meets with British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy on next month's review of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement as part of a discussion by the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.

Today, a Sinn Féin delegation met with the British Secretary of State Paul Murphy at Hillsborough to discuss the forthcoming Review, the recent Ombudsman's report into the murder of Sean Brown and the continuing failure of the British Government to publish or act upon the Cory Report on collusion.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mid-Ulster Sinn Féin Assembly member Geraldine Dougan said the killing of Sean Brown and the subsequent investigation raise very serious questions for the British government. The removal of files from PSNI barracks only took place once the Ombudsman began to investigate the case. These files were removed by members of the PSNI. There can be no other explanation.

``It is time for the British government to come clean on their decades long policy of collusion and cover up. The families of those killed are demanding answers and the British government cannot be allowed to stall on these matters any further.''

Meanwhile, SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood has warned there is a danger that London could adopt ``a tactical approach'' to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and indulge Ian Paisley's DUP and other hardline unionist opponents of the accord.

The SDLP has warned the Irish government that it is their responsibility to make sure that politics returns following a British decision sixteen months ago to collapse the devolved Belfast administration and reimpose Direct Rule from London.

As the SDLP published its submission on the review of the Good Friday Agreement which starts on February 3, Mr Attwood said tomorrow's meeting in Dublin was the most critical event of the coming months for the peace process.

The British Irish Intergovernmental Conference discussion, he said, would set the tone for politics in the coming months.

The SDLP chairman also hit out at other pro-Good Friday Agreement parties in Northern Ireland for failing to come together in advance of the review to devise a strategy to defend the Agreement.

``The failure of the pro-Agreement parties to pull themselves together in order to defend the Agreement weakens the Agreement,'' he said.

``The failure of the British government to try and move forward the Agreement weakens the Agreement.

``The indulging of DUP notions about how to renegotiate the Agreement damages the Agreement.

``So let no one have any doubt that there are things going on that damage the Agreement and we can not allow it to happen.''

Mr Attwood said there was a suspicion that London was prepared to slow down the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement to see how the DUP adjusted to its new role as the largest unionist party following last November's election to the suspended Assembly.

He argued that neither the British nor the Irish Governments nor the people of the Six Counties could afford to wait for the DUP.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News