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Speaking Note by Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam on Sinn Féin's Expulsion from Talks, 16 February 1998

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Research: Fionnuala McKenna
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Speaking note circulated to the Northern parties by the then Secretary of State, Majorie (Mo) Mowlam, when she instigated the procedure for the expulsion of Sinn Féin from the talks, 16 February 1998

1. Chair, it has been the consistent position of the British Government that participation in these negotiations requires total and absolute commitment to the principles of democracy and nonviolence set out in paragraph 20 of the Report of the International Body. Any party which demonstrably dishonours its commitment to those principles ceases to be eligible to participate in the negotiations.

2. In this connection, colleagues around the table will recall that in their determination of 24 September 1997 the two Governments reiterated that they would expect the Republican Movement as a whole to honour the commitment to the Mitchell principles affirmed by Sinn Féin. Applying that same logic, they concluded on 26 January 1998 that the UDP was no longer entitled to participate in the negotiations on account of UFF involvement in sectarian murders.

3. Shortly after 11 p.m. on 9 February two gunmen shot dead Brendan Campbell and seriously wounded his female companion in Brookland Street, Belfast. Just before 1 p.m. the following day a gunman approached a parked car in Dunmurry, Belfast, and opened fire, killing the occupant, Robert Dougan, before making his escape in a waiting car. Both murders, like others in recent weeks, were deplorable and inexcusable, and the Government condemns them without reservation.

4. The Chief Constable's firm view is that both these murders were carried out by the Provisional IRA. His assessment is based both on intelligence information available to him and on evidence obtained in the course of the RUC's investigations to date into the two crimes. Because criminal charges have now been preferred in respect of one of the murders, it is not appropriate to go into further detail here.

5. The British Government concurs with the Chief Constable's assessment that the Provisional IRA were responsible for both these murders.

6. I also note that the statement issued by the Provisional IRA on 12 February did not deny that the murders had been carried out by the Provisional IRA.

7. These considerations clearly raise the question of whether Sinn Féin is any longer entitled to participate in these negotiations. I therefore propose that you, Chair, should make appropriate arrangements for a plenary meeting later today at which the parties can express their views on what I have said and on any observations, oral or written, which the Sinn Féin delegation may wish to make.

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