The British government’s failings in the peace process were highlighted today by Sinn Féin today as the party turned its focus away from fruitless exchanges with the hardline unionist DUP.
Sinn Féin vice president Pat Doherty said it was particularly vital that British officials dealt with the issue of collusion between members of the Crown forces and unionist gunmen in next month`s negotiations in Kent in southern England.
“The British government has, on three separate occasions, unilaterally suspended the institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.
“It has also failed to deliver on its commitments on policing, the administration of justice, demilitarisation, equality and human rights.
“The British government’s failure to deliver on the above issues is directly related to its determination to suppress the truth about its policy of collusion.
“The British government fully understands that the truth about collusion will expose the extent of its dirty war in Ireland.
“The resulting domestic and international outcry would focus an unwanted spotlight on the murky state apparatus which implemented this policy and which still remains intact.”
British Prime Minister TOny Blair was reneged on a commitment to launch a public inquiry into the involvement of British forces in the murder of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane in 1989.
Mr Finucane’s murder is one in a series of officially authorized murders which involved unionist paramilitaries, members of the police and British Army intelligence.
Mr Doherty said today if collusion was addressed it would boost nationalist confidence in policing and justice in the North.
He continued: “Unless the British Government comes clean on its policy of collusion and opens up its institutions to democratic scrutiny and accountability, it will continue to be in default of its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement.
“The British Government holds the key to resolving many of the outstanding issues in the Peace Process. Does it possess the will? We will find out in September.”
Meanwhile, a row between rival unionists over next month’s talks has grown after the DUP was accused today of breaking its promise to stop concessions to republicans.
In a hard hitting attack on the Democratic Unionists, senior Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey said it was clear concessions were continuing despite the Reverend Ian Paisley`s party being given a clean slate.
However DUP Assembly member Arlene Foster hit back, insisting the party had not been given a clean slate and was still trying to establish what had been agreed by the UUP, Sinn Féin and the British and Irish Governments when a deal spectacularly collapsed last October.
Mr McGimpsey, the UUP Assembly member for South Belfast, claimed the DUP was engaged in choreography with Sinn Féin over a deal.
He said: “The DUP, in trying to cover their tracks, makes up excuses by blaming the UUP but this a nonsense.”
But Arlene Foster, who defected to the DUP this year from the Ulster Unionists, rejected his claims.
“Michael McGimpsey knows very well we did not start with a clean slate,” the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA responded. “If so, why are we asking the Ulster Unionist Party to release the details of what was agreed with Sinn Féin and the two governments last October?
“Why haven’t they been quick to release those details once the DUP has challenged them?”ç