Collusion theme for annual internment rally

Hundreds brave downpours as Maskey calls for need to address state murders

The unionist agenda pursued by senior members of the Northern Ireland Office has the capacity to wreck the Good Friday Agreement, a senior Sinn Féin member has warned.

Addressing a crowd of hundreds at Sunday’s West Belfast annual anti-internment rally Alex Maskey called on British Prime Minister Tony Blair to get his house in order and ensure the full implementation of the GFA.

Citing collusion as a prime example of how the NIO are dictating the agenda, Alex Maskey said if the peace process is to move forward there needs to be a full public inquiry into state sponsored murders such as that of Pat Finucane.

He also told the crowd, who had marched from Beechmount Avenue to Dunville Park that the NIO is constantly diluting and undermining everything promised in the GFA.

“Tony Blair needs to get to grips with the collusion issue rather than running scared from it,” said Mr Maskey.

“Instead of offering solutions Mr Blair has become part of the problem.
“There are people in the NIO and British government who are clearly unionist and pursuing an agenda that is contrary to the Good Friday Agreement. They have the potential to wreck the Agreement.”

Speaking to the Andersonstown News after yesterday’s rally the South Belfast MLA said that Tony Blair once said that if the process doesn’t move forward it moves backwards. “Well, we’re not making any progress,” he said.

“We only have to look at the issues of policing, collusion and equality to see how the NIO is diluting the Agreement to meet the needs of unionism. First it was the Ulster Unionists and now it is the DUP,” he said.

“This cannot continue and Tony Blair knows this.”

Alex Maskey called on Tony Blair to regain control of the process from the NIO on the part of the British government. And he urged Mr Blair to do so before the beginning of talks with Sinn Féin scheduled for next month.

“The Good Friday Agreement is the agenda and not the desires of the unionists within the NIO,” said the Sinn Féin man.

“Tony Blair needs to act like the British Prime Minister and order the NIO to implement the Good Friday Agreement. And he needs to do this before the September talks.”

Journalist:: Ciaran Barnes

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