03 December 2005

SF and SDLP accuse each other of collusion

Derry Journal

'We'll Go It Alone' - Sinn Fein Warn SDLP

By Amanda Williams
Friday 2nd December 2005

Sinn Fein last night claimed they would run Derry City Council on their own if a row with the SDLP over the On The Runs Bill cannot be resolved later today. On Tuesday the SDLP walked out of Council refusing to return until Sinn Fein withdrew allegations of collusion between the relative of a party member and Special Branch. The row broke out following a motion put forward by SDLP councillor Colum Eastwood on the contentious Bill during which he accused Sinn Fein of 'colluding' with the British government, a claim strongly denied by Sinn Fein, in attempt to cover up each others' wrongs.' Tempers flared resulting in the allegation being made by Sinn Fein's Kevin Campbell.
A bid to resolve the stalemate will be made this afternoon when an SDLP delegation led by Helen Quigley will meet with its Sinn Fein counterparts. "It is in the interest of all the people of Derry that we resolve any difficulties as soon as possible so that Council can continue to function to its full ability" Sinn FÈin Group Leader Maeve McLaughlin said. "In the meantime Sinn FÈin representatives will continue to attend all Council meetings to represent the people of this city."
Colr. McLaughlin added that after checking Standing Orders it had been confirmed that Sinn Fein could conduct full Council meetings as well as take policy decisions, with or without the SDLP. "The quorum for full council states that there must be eight members, Sinn Fein have ten, that is enough to carry on business as usual" she said. "We will not be going into today's meeting with an apology but we will listen to what the SDLP have to say. We hope they will realise their tenuous position and understand that they have no right to suspend democracy."
Helen Quigley confirmed that a meeting will take place, at the SDLP's request, and added that her party are determined to ensure that the interests of the ratepayers of Derry come first. "We will again be raising our concerns about comments made and we will demand that those comments be withdrawn" Colr. Quigley said. "We will go into the meeting positively to seek a resolution and nothing else so that we can get on with the work we need to be doing which people elected us to do." Colr. Quigley added that she hoped Sinn Fein would take a 'similar approach.'

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