Sinn Féin members approve St Andrews Agreement

Sinn Féin was mandated by its members today to fully support the St Andrews Agreement to achieve power sharing in the North by next March.

Sinn Féin was mandated by its members today to fully support the St Andrews Agreement to achieve power sharing in the North by next March.

A two-week consultation process involving more than 60 meetings has supported the party's leadership in continuing negotiations with political parties and the Irish and British governments.

Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, who headed the consultation panel, said: "Following a thorough discussion, the Árd Chomhairle agreed that the process set out at St Andrews has the potential to deliver the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and to bring about the restoration of the power sharing and all-Ireland political institutions.

"It also mandated the party leadership to continue with the ongoing negotiations to resolve the outstanding core issues."

The controversial issue of policing was briefly raised at today's three hour meeting of the party's ruling Árd Chomhairle body at a Dublin hotel.

The Sinn Féin president described the discussions as robust, and he appealed to republicans to remain united.

"Let's all stay together as we seek to move this process forward."

Miss McDonald added: "We are coming at this in a very positive way and we don't want to see any further slippage in terms of timescale. We want to see all of the outstanding issues resolved, but we're not there yet."

Today's meeting passed a motion declaring that the issue of policing and justice was a matter for the two governments and the political parties. It said that a timeframe for the transfer of powers and a model for the department on policing and justice still had to be agreed.

The party said it looked forward to the Assembly meeting to nominate the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on November 24.

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