Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Political process in perilous situation - Michelle Gildernew

Published: 21 September, 2014

Addressing the theme, "Labour, Ireland and defending the peace process" the Fermanagh South Tyrone MP said:

"Much work was put in by many people to get the Good Friday Agreement.

"However its implementation is far from over - but to continue the task needs momentum. At present, our political process is in a perilous - I would actually say untenable - position.

"Over the last two years, political unionism has clearly moved into an anti-Agreement mode.

"In 2012 we saw the violent unionist and loyalist reaction to the lawful, democratic decision of Belfast City Council to reduce the flying of the union flag to 'designated' days - the same as in the Assembly.

"In 2013 we saw the violent unionist and loyalist reaction to the lawful decision of the Parades Commission preventing an unwanted Orange Order march to pass nationalist Ardoyne in North Belfast.

"And then in 2013, DUP leader Peter Robinson reneged on the agreed Programme for Government commitment to develop the Long Kesh/Maze site - by way of a letter sent from Florida, not to his joint First Minister Martin McGuinness, but to DUP party colleagues.

"This approach has increasingly defined the nature of DUP participation in the political institutions in the north. We see no genuine willingness to share power with republicans in a real partnership government, or to embrace things like mutual respect, parity of esteem or reconciliation.

"Since the May elections, we have seen the makings of a pan-unionist coalition of the unionist political parties - including those aligned to the paramilitary UDA & UVF. It is an anti-GFA axis, aiming to subvert the GFA's principles and processes.

"So we have seen a refusal to agree the compromises emerging from the talks chaired by Richard Haass & Meghan O'Sullivan later last year; a walkout from reconvened party leaders' talks in July, and threats to bring down the institutions over the issues of 'On The Runs', the Parades Commission decision, and now most recently on the issue of cuts.

"This situation is untenable, and it is for the British and Irish governments - with support from the US - to step up, get engaged positively and get things moving again."