25/09/2001

SDLP warn brinkmanship tactics jeopardise assembly

An SDLP politician has warned that brinkmanship politics by both unionists and republicans is threatening the future of the Good Friday Agreement.

SDLP Assembly member for West Tyrone Joe Byrne has criticised the Ulster Unionists, Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin for engaging in recrimination tactics and stunts which could put the Assembly and other political institutions at risk.

Speaking on Tuesday 25 September he said: “This has the very real potential of unravelling the Good Friday Agreement and is putting the political institutions under grave threat.”

Mr Byrne pointed out that “people are sick, tired and frustrated of the internal divisions” within unionism, specifically with the Ulster Unionists and the Democratic Unionists vying with each other to gain the support required for an exclusion motion against Sinn Fein. He argued: “These sort of antics are more at home in a playground than in a legislative Assembly.”

Mr Byrne reaffirmed his party would not be voting for any motion to exclude Sinn Fein, and that his party would be calling upon the UUP to lift the ban on Sinn Féin ministers attending North-South Ministerial Councils meetings.

However, the West Tyrone assemblyman also said people were frustrated at the inability of republicans to resolve the disarmament issue once and for all.

“Only republicans have the influence to resolve this issue and they must accept in the light of the terrible events in Washington, New York and Pittsburgh that political violence or the threat of political violence has no role to play in any democratic society.”

“Republicans must now commit themselves to a process in which weapons are put completely and verifiably beyond use.” (AMcE)

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