::: u.tv :::

McGuinness flies in for talks

THURSDAY 07/10/2004 13:57:27

The British government was today meeting Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness as the divisions between Northern Ireland's parties over devolution deepened.
By:Press Association

The Mid Ulster MP flew to London as Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams launched a fresh attack on the British government`s handling of the Good Friday Agreement.

In an article for an Irish American newspaper, the West Belfast MP claimed British policy in Northern Ireland tolerated and perpetuated institutionalised inequality.

He argued: "Consequently many in political unionism see no imperative to co-operate with their nationalist neighbours, or nationalist and republican representatives.

"This view is reinforced by the fact that the apparatus of government, the symbols, and senior management of the institutions of the state are predominantly unionist.

British policy is also an obstacle to the practice and achieving of equality of treatment and parity of esteem.
"The unelected and unaccountable Northern Ireland Office is a particular example of the need for urgent change.

"The NIO runs the six counties almost as a private fiefdom.

British direct rule ministers fly in for a few hours a week, very often simply to rubber-stamp decisions pre-formulated by senior NIO officials.

"And too often, those who work within and for the NIO demonstrate an unapologetic devotion to the unionist cause.

"In addition, the hundreds of unaccountable quangos are filled to overflowing with those appointed by the NIO and deemed by that body to be safe hands. The manifestation of unionist governance for the unionist people is preserved."

British and Irish government officials have been working in recent weeks on a formula which they believe could revive power sharing in the province.

However, Sinn Fein and the nationalist SDLP believe both governments have given the Reverend Ian Paisley`s Democratic Unionists hope that the Good Friday Agreement can be fundamentally rewritten.

In particular, they have hit out at DUP proposals to change the way devolved ministers are elected at Stormont, to make ministers more accountable to their cabinet colleagues and the Assembly and scrutinise cross-border institutions involving the Irish government.

Mr Adams wrote in the Irish Voice today that his party was focused on re-establishing the executive, the political institutions and the all-Ireland bodies as a means of ensuring equality.

But he called on the British government to set the example for unionists by implementing its obligations on equality, human rights, justice, policing and other areas of the Agreement.

He added: "There is an onus also on the Irish government as an equal partner to the Agreement to defend all aspects of the new dispensation and to insist that the British Government honours its obligations."

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