Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA today gave a keynote address to senior Sinn Féin activists at Parliament Buildings.
Mr. Adams said:
Sinn Féin's focus in the last five years has been to see the Good Friday Agreement fully and faithfully implemented.
The Agreement was born out of decades of division and conflict, and almost 30 years of war. It reflects a deep desire on the part of the vast majority of people on this island to build a just and lasting peace for everyone.
The substance of the Good Friday Agreement is about the rights and entitlements of citizens. It is about a new political dispensation on the island of Ireland and a new relationship between Ireland and Britain.
It is about change - fundamental and deep-rooted change - including constitutional and institutional change - across all aspects of society.
Five years after the Agreement there has been progress. The institutions, when they functioned, did so effectively and were very popular.
While for some people, including bereaved families and victims of sectarianism, the situation is worse the reality is that for most people things are much better today than they have ever been.
We have all come a long way in recent years. A problem, which was previously described as intractable, has proven not to be so.
But we still have a lot more to do.
Important aspects of the Agreement have not been delivered on, as Prime Minister Blair freely acknowledged last October.
The purpose of the Joint Declaration and of the negotiations which Sinn Fein and the two governments were locked in for months, was to ensure that those rights and entitlements not yet in place become a reality in the time ahead.
While committed to our republican objectives it is Sinn Féin's view that the Good Friday Agreement, despite the difficulties, continues to hold the promise of a new beginning for everyone.
I believe we have now reached a defining moment in that endeavour.
The Joint Declaration commits to progress across a range of issues and indeed significant progress in some areas; albeit on a conditional basis. It also contains other difficulties, some of which are wholly unacceptable to Sinn Fein. We have made this clear to the two governments.
The two governments, for example, intend to introduce sanctions aimed at Sinn Fein and the Sinn Fein electorate, which are outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. These sanctions would contravene the safeguards built into the Agreement and are unacceptable.
Let us be clear about the Joint Declaration. The commitments given by the two governments, and especially the British government, in the Good Friday Agreement and the Joint Declaration, if and when acted upon would see the commencement of a process. This could see the implementation in full of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Joint Declaration is not an act of completion. It is, at best, a commitment to a process towards completion.
Nor is there any certainty about the UUP's position or its intentions in respect of the stability of the political institutions, a timeframe for the transfer of powers on policing and criminal justice, or the establishment of the north/south inter-parliamentary forum and so forth.
There is no certainty from the Unionist paramilitaries.
There is no certainty about the positions or the intentions of British securocrats.
But despite these very real and serious difficulties, it is Sinn Féin's view that on balance the Joint Declaration presents an important opportunity to move the process forward.
Consequently, the IRA leadership was persuaded to take yet another initiative to support and give space and momentum to the peace process. A draft text and other concepts were passed to the two governments and the Ulster Unionist Party. There followed a period of sustained leaking and misleading briefings to the media about this.
Then on April 12 the two governments, in a public statement said that it is important that all parties and groups join the governments in upholding and implementing the Good Friday Agreement in full. They also said that 'fulfilling the promise and potential of the Good Friday Agreement is a collective responsibility.'
So there was agreement that the basis for definitively ending conflict -- conflict resolution - is a collective one.
On Sunday, 13 April, Martin McGuinness and I gave the two governments the final copy of the IRA statement.
This detailed statement setting out the IRA leaderships view of the current phase of the peace process was accomplished in the most difficult circumstances. It contains a number of highly significant and positive elements unparalleled in any previous statement by the IRA leadership, either in this or in any previous phase of their struggle.
A copy was also shown to the Ulster Unionist Party leadership.
The two governments have publicly recognised the many positive aspects of the IRA statement, the obvious progress and, crucially, the British and Irish governments said that the statement shows a clear desire to make the peace process work.
Such an IRA statement and such a response to it would have been unimaginable ten or even five years ago.
The IRA statement sets out the status of the IRA cessation, its future intentions and its attitude to the issue of arms. It also makes clear the IRA's resolve to a complete and final closure of the conflict, and its support for efforts to make conflict a thing of the past. This is unequivocal.
On the 23 April the British Prime Minister publicly raised three questions about the IRA statement.
Mr. Blair asked first, whether activities inconsistent with the Good Friday Agreement, such as targeting, procurement of weapons, punishment beatings and so forth, were at an end; second, whether the IRAs commitment was to put all arms beyond use; and thirdly, whether the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and commitments in the Joint Declaration would bring complete and final closure of the conflict.
I have stated in the course of the extensive private contacts that have taken place with the governments my belief that the IRA statement is clear on the issues raised, but for the public record, my answers are as follows.
Firstly, the IRA leadership has stated its determination to ensure that its activities will be consistent with its resolve to see the complete and final closure of the conflict.
I have already acknowledged in my address to the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, and at other times, the difficulties caused for the pro-Agreement unionists and others by allegations of IRA activities in the recent past.
In particular these have been cited as an excuse for the suspension of the political institutions and the current impasse in the Good Friday Agreement process.
Sinn Fein is, with others, an architect of the Good Friday Agreement. Martin McGuinness and I have raised allegations of IRA activity with the IRA leadership.
Mr. Blair has also raised these issues in one of his questions.
In my view the IRA statement deals definitively with these concerns about alleged IRA activity. And any such activities which in any way undermine the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement should not be happening.
The IRA statement is a statement of completely peaceful intent. Its logic is that there should be no activities inconsistent with this.
Secondly, the IRA has clearly stated its willingness to proceed with the implementation of a process to put arms beyond use at the earliest opportunity. Obviously this is not about putting some arms beyond use. It is about all arms.
And thirdly, if the two governments and all the parties fulfil their commitments this will provide the basis for the complete and final closure of the conflict.
Sinn Féin's peace strategy has always been about bringing an end to physical force republicanism by creating an alternative way to achieve democratic and republican objectives. We have negotiated, and campaigned and argued to have the Good Friday Agreement implemented not only because that is our obligation, not only because it is the right thing, but also because it fits into a strategy of creating an alternative to war and a means of sustaining and anchoring the peace process.
The IRA statement contains another key element. Some time ago the Ulster Unionist Party leader publicly stated that he would not call a UUC meeting to discuss his party going back into the institutions until after the IRA had acted on the arms issue. For its part the IRA had set its engagement with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning in the context of functioning political institutions.
There was also deep scepticism within the republican constituency because there was no indication that the UUP would reciprocate even if the IRA moved on the arms issue.
This stand off had to be broken.
So, despite the suspension of the institutions the IRA leadership authorised a third act of putting arms beyond use to be verified under the agreed scheme by the IICD. This act was timed to facilitate the Ulster Unionist Party holding a UUC meeting. This followed a suggestion by me that I would point up this difficulty in a public statement. Mr. Trimble was to respond to this with a public commitment that he would recommend to his party that they actively support the sustained working of the political institutions and other elements of the Good Friday Agreement.
The IRA leadership was then prepared to act in advance of the UUC meeting and in the context of suspended institutions.
My understanding is that all of this is still doable at this time if there is a positive response from the two governments and Mr. Trimble.
Let me tell you that the Sinn Féin leadership have put in a huge amount of effort to save this process. But there is a limit to what we can do.
There is considerable unease within the republican activist base and the wider republican constituency over recent developments. The Sinn Féin leadership, while mindful of this, has not been deterred because our commitment is to making this process work. We are also conscious that other constituencies have their problems.
The IRA leadership has once again demonstrated in an unprecedented way its clear willingness to support the peace process.
I, along with the vast majority of people in Ireland, value the IRA cessation. It is the main anchor for the peace process. But let me be clear, the political process is the responsibility of political leaders. We created the Good Friday Agreement. It is our job, whatever about the approaches or actions of others, to make politics work, to make conflict resolution work.
This is a collective responsibility. We all have a choice to make. The Sinn Fein leadership's position is clear.
I believe that the IRA statement, unmatched by any from the IRA leadership in this or indeed any other phase of their struggle, points the way forward.
Now the two governments and the leadership of the UUP have to make a choice.
So what has to be done? There is no magic formula waiting to be discovered. The next steps in this process are not secret. Everyone knows what is required.
The Joint Declaration and all other statements should be published. It is as simple as that. The commitments contained in all the statements, including the IRA statement, should be implemented in full.
The Assembly Elections should proceed as planned.
Republicans have stretched ourselves repeatedly to keep the peace process on track. Sinn Féin is in this process to the end.
Nationalists and unionists, republicans and loyalists have to come to terms with and recognise each others integrity. We need to forge a real partnership that manages the changes that are taking place and builds a better future, a democratic and inclusive future.
Our collective task, in fact our collective obligation, is to make that change peaceful and constructive for all.
We have to work together to move this process forward.
That is the challenge for all of us, for Sinn Fein for the two governments and, critically, for the leadership of the UUP.
That is the way to achieve a permanent peace.
1.1 I have carried out three Enquiries into allegations of collusion between the security forces and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. These began nearly fourteen years ago and continue to this day. I believe the time is now right to make some important recommendations. These arise from serious shortcomings I have identified from all three Enquiries.
1.2 I intend to take a twin-track approach, publishing these recommendations whilst allowing the specific criminal investigations to continue. These will be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (NI). Some major lines of enquiry are still in the early stages of investigation.
1.3 My Enquiries have highlighted collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder. These serious acts and omissions have meant that people have been killed or seriously injured.
1.4 This report will also detail how my Enquiries have been obstructed.
Terms of Reference
1.5 In May 1999, following a letter from the Director of Public Prosecutions (NI) to the then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, I was asked to re-investigate the murder of Patrick Finucane and allegations of collusion raised by British Irish Rights Watch.
1.6 The significance of the role played by an RUC informant William Stobie in events surrounding the murder of Patrick Finucane led to two principal, further matters being added to my remit. Firstly I undertook to re-investigate the murder in November 1987 of a young student Brian Adam Lambert and secondly to examine certain issues surrounding the handling of agents.
1.7 The task of preventing terrorist attacks by paramilitary groups from either side of the community in Northern Ireland is acknowledged to be one of the most complex policing challenges in the United Kingdom. Conventional roles and duties are overlaid with the need to respond to the ever-present threat from terrorism. The scale of this challenge is highlighted by the fact that during the three years primarily covered by this report, 1987 to 1989, the RUC dealt with over 3,000 terrorist related incidents of which 261 were deaths related to the security situation.
1.8 My third Enquiry has focussed in detail on only two of those murders, and a small number of related agent case histories. In doing so it has worked and continues to work at all times to provide evidence to satisfy the prosecution test. It has also, like my two previous Enquiries, always operated from the premise that those involved in policing and security duties in Northern Ireland work to and are subject to the rule of law.
1.9 My recommendations cover the collection and use of intelligence, the use of agents, standards of investigation and the prevention of collusion. Some of the recommendations I made in my first report are still relevant. I re-emphasise the importance of their implementation. I also propose some new recommendations concerning the future policing of Northern Ireland.
1.10 The publication of this report is later than I had originally hoped. This delay is due to a number of factors. Firstly, as has already been mentioned, new terms of reference were added to the original remit of my Enquiry.
1.11 Secondly last November a considerable amount of additional documentation from the Ministry of Defence, giving rise to several new and major lines of enquiry, became available to the Enquiry team for the first time. I record this late disclosure with considerable disquiet. I had encountered the same problem of late disclosure during my two previous Enquiries and expressed then my strong concerns surrounding the issue.
The Murder of Patrick Finucane
2.1 Patrick Finucane was murdered in front of his wife and three children in his home on Sunday 12th February 1989. He was 39 years old and worked as a solicitor in Belfast. Mr Finucane was shot fourteen times by two masked gunmen who entered his house in the early evening. The gunmen escaped in a red Ford Sierra motor vehicle driven by an accomplice. The following day the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) claimed responsibility for the murder.
2.2 Two guns were used in the attack, the majority of shots fired from a 9mm-P Browning. This firearm was recovered approximately five months later. It was found to be one of a number of guns stolen in August 1987 from an Ulster Defence Regiment barracks. It had already been used in an attempted murder a few months before the murder of Patrick Finucane. Five men were arrested in connection with the recovery of the weapon and three were later charged. The second gun, a .38 Special or a .357 Magnum revolver, was later used in another attempted murder in 1991. That weapon has never been recovered.
2.3 A number of other suspects were identified and arrested by the RUC but by November 1989 the murder remained unsolved and the investigation had effectively ceased. However in 1990 a journalist, Mr Neil Mulholland, provided new information about the Finucane murder from a man claiming to be both a quartermaster for the Ulster Defence Association and an agent of the RUC Special Branch. This man was William Stobie. He also admitted to Mulholland that he had supplied the murder weapon that had killed another man, Brian Adam Lambert.
The Murder of Brian Adam Lambert
2.4 Brian Adam Lambert had been shot on 9th November 1987 at a building site in Belfast. He was a young Protestant student with no criminal record or links to terrorism. It is believed he was mistakenly targeted in revenge for the Remembrance Day bombing at Enniskillen the day before. One man was charged and convicted for the offence of conspiring to murder Brian Adam Lambert.
William Alfred Stobie
2.5 Stobie was recruited as an agent by the RUC Special Branch in November 1987 following his arrest for the murder of Brian Adam Lambert for which he was released without charge. He was tasked by Special Branch until 1990 when as a result of Mulholland's information he was arrested by the RUC for the Finucane and Lambert murders. Mulholland, however, refused to sign a statement. This fact was highlighted in a file submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (NI) recommending non-prosecution.
2.6 As the UDA quartermaster of the West Belfast Brigade, Stobie had continued to be involved in the storage and supply of weapons several months after the murder of Patrick Finucane. His activities, whilst an agent, clearly indicate his central role in the commission of serious offences from at least July 1988 onwards.
2.7 It has now been established that before the murder of Patrick Finucane, Stobie supplied information of a murder being planned. He also provided significant information to his Special Branch handlers in the days after the murder. This principally concerned the collection of a firearm. However this vital information did not reach the original murder enquiry team and remains a significant issue under investigation by my Enquiry team.
2.8 Stobie was arrested by my third Enquiry team and charged with the murder of Patrick Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert. The case concluded at Belfast Crown Court in November 2001 when the key prosecution witness, Neil Mulholland, who had by then signed a witness statement, failed to give evidence on account of his mental state. Two weeks later Stobie was shot dead. His murder was claimed by the loyalist terrorist group the 'Red Hand Defenders'. Stobie's murder, and his refusal to accept protection beforehand, is a matter that has been investigated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
2.9 My Enquiry team arrested three of the original suspects for the murder of Patrick Finucane and nine other men were arrested for the first time on suspicion of murder. None of those arrested could be linked forensically to the scene of the Finucane murder. No admissible evidence has been obtained to enable any person to be charged. I believe however that all played a significant role in the murder of Patrick Finucane or the events surrounding it. This part of my Enquiry is still ongoing.
2.10 Similarly five men were arrested by the Enquiry team on suspicion of the murder of Brian Adam Lambert. No-one, other than William Stobie, has been charged with his murder because of a lack of evidence to satisfy the prosecution test.
Investigation of Agents
2.11 My Enquiry team also examined the role of agents, now known as Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS), active around the time of both murders. In particular it reviewed William Stobie's and Brian Nelson's roles in the murder of Patrick Finucane. Nelson, an Army agent, had been identified as a suspect during my first Enquiry. He was charged with thirty-five serious terrorist offences and later convicted. He was imprisoned for ten years. He was the subject of my second Enquiry. This investigated additional allegations concerning his role as highlighted in the 1992 Panorama documentary entitled ' Dirty War'.
2.12 As in the case of Stobie all the available intelligence was assessed. Nelson was aware and contributed materially to the intended attack on Finucane. It is not clear whether his role in the murder extended beyond passing a photograph, which showed Finucane and another person, to one of the other suspects. Nelson was re-arrested and interviewed. There was no new evidence and he was not charged with any further offences.
2.13 Brian Nelson's role also raised a number of issues arising from the work of the Force Research Unit (FRU), the Army's agent-handling unit in Northern Ireland. My Enquiry team investigated allegations made by several former members of the FRU. They reviewed and analysed all material relating to the FRU's operational activity. Twenty former members of the FRU were interviewed and files seeking legal advice in relation to nine of them have been prepared. New material uncovered since the publication of my last report has shed further light on this matter. These enquiries are still ongoing.
2.14 My Enquiry team has undertaken the forensic examination of a wealth of material recovered from the loyalist paramilitary groups, particularly that belonging to Nelson. The advance in forensic technology has resulted in identification of eighty-one people who had left their fingerprints on classified documents that they had no lawful reason to possess. Twenty-seven have been arrested and interviewed. Application of the prosecution test led to six persons being charged and convicted in relation to possession of documents likely to be of use to terrorists. The remaining twenty-one cases failed to satisfy the prosecution test.
Other Matters Concerning Collusion
2.15 One of the major issues for my Enquiry, underpinning virtually all aspects of the individual investigations, was the allegation of widespread collusion between the loyalist paramilitaries, the RUC and Army. My Enquiry team investigated these allegations. Many were contained in the British Irish RIGHTS WATCH report 'Deadly Intelligence - State involvement in loyalist murder in Northern Ireland' including the allegation that the RUC had incited the death of Patrick Finucane.
2.16 My Enquiry attempted to establish whether Mr Finucane had been threatened by loyalist paramilitaries, or RUC officers, and whether he had made any formal complaint. The absence of any record means that this criminal allegation cannot be substantiated against any RUC officer.
2.17 My Enquiry team also investigated an allegation that senior RUC officers briefed the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Rt Hon Douglas Hogg QC, MP, that 'some solicitors were unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA'. Mr Hogg repeated this view during a debate on the Prevention of Terrorism legislation in the House of Commons. Within a few weeks Patrick Finucane was murdered. Mr Hogg's comments about solicitors' support for terrorism made on 17th January 1989 aroused controversy. To the extent that they were based on information passed by the RUC, they were not justifiable and the Enquiry concludes that the Minister was compromised.
2.18 A further aspect of my Enquiry was how the RUC dealt with threat intelligence. This included examination and analysis of RUC records to determine whether both sides of the community were dealt with in equal measure. They were not.
3.1 Throughout my three Enquiries I recognised that I was being obstructed. This obstruction was cultural in its nature and widespread within parts of the Army and the RUC. I am confident that through the investigative efforts of my Enquiry team, I have managed to overcome it and achieve the overall objectives of my Enquiry.
3.2 I gave details in my first report of the obstruction I encountered during my first Enquiry. I recount these details now as their significance has grown as a result of more recent disclosures.
3.3 It was only through the investigative efforts of my Enquiry team that I was able to identify and arrest the Army agent Brian Nelson in January 1990. When he was interviewed I discovered that he had been in possession of an 'intelligence dump'. This had been seized by his FRU handlers when my first Enquiry had begun, in September 1989. This crucial evidence had been concealed from my Enquiry team.
3.4 There was a clear breach of security before the planned arrest of Nelson and other senior loyalists. Information was leaked to the loyalist paramilitaries and the press. This resulted in the operation being aborted. Nelson was advised by his FRU handlers to leave home the night before. A new date was set for the operation on account of the leak. The night before the new operation my Incident room was destroyed by fire. This incident, in my opinion, has never been adequately investigated and I believe it was a deliberate act of arson.
3.5 During my first Enquiry I asked to examine particular documents but received written statements that they did not exist. My latest Enquiry team has now recovered all these documents. The dates recorded on them show that they all existed at the time of my first request. Much of the effort of this Enquiry has had, yet again, to be spent building up its own intelligence database and in so doing discovering that it has not been given a full and proper disclosure.
3.6 Following three recent, major disclosures by the Army and the Ministry of Defence I am investigating whether the concealment of documents and information was sanctioned and if so at what levels of the organisations holding them. It has been necessary to interview the same witnesses a number of times because of the failure to provide complete information at the first time of asking.
3.7 I have spoken recently with senior management from the organisations concerned. I am now satisfied that matters have improved and will continue to do so.
4.1 My third Enquiry began on 19th April 1999. It has, in conjunction with my two previous Enquiries been the largest investigation undertaken in the United Kingdom. During the course of these three Enquiries 9,256 statements have been taken, 10,391 documents recorded (totalling over 1 million pages) and 16,194 exhibits seized.
4.2 This has led to 144 arrests. So far 94 persons have been convicted. To date 57 separate reports have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (NI) for his direction. These reports contain the detail of my three Enquiries.
4.3 My recommendations cover the operation of all the security forces in Northern Ireland. They should not be seen in isolation. There have been a number of other reports published in the intervening years since my first Enquiry. The Army undertook a review of their agent handling operations after my first Enquiry had uncovered the criminality of the Army's agent, Brian Nelson. This resulted in the Blelloch report, which established specific guidelines for such operations. More recent reports include the Patten report (1999) on the future of policing in Northern Ireland, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland report on the Omagh bombing (2001) and the report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary into the Police Service of Northern Ireland Special Branch (2002). My recommendations complement and support those contained in them.
4.4 The recommendations arising from my first report and the Blelloch report, together with the recommendations of this report, should be independently reviewed and audited within an agreed time frame.
4.5 My recommendations draw on the information uncovered by my three Enquiries, carried out over the past fourteen years. In most cases the facts have been clearly established; in others the evidence is contradictory and therefore incapable of resolution.
4.6 I have uncovered enough evidence to lead me to believe that the murders of Patrick Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert could have been prevented. I also believe that the RUC investigation of Patrick Finucane's murder should have resulted in the early arrest and detection of his killers.
4.7 I conclude there was collusion in both murders and the circumstances surrounding them. Collusion is evidenced in many ways. This ranges from the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, through to the extreme of agents being involved in murder.
4.8 The failure to keep records or the existence of contradictory accounts can often be perceived as evidence of concealment or malpractice. It limits the opportunity to rebut serious allegations. The absence of accountability allows the acts or omissions of individuals to go undetected. The withholding of information impedes the prevention of crime and the arrest of suspects. The unlawful involvement of agents in murder implies that the security forces sanction killings.
4.9 My three Enquiries have found all these elements of collusion to be present. The co-ordination, dissemination and sharing of intelligence were poor. Informants and agents were allowed to operate without effective control and to participate in terrorist crimes. Nationalists were known to be targeted but were not properly warned or protected. Crucial information was withheld from Senior Investigating Officers. Important evidence was neither exploited nor preserved.
4.10 My enquiries with regard to satisfying the test for prosecution in relation to possible offences arising out of these matters are continuing.
1. The National Intelligence Model should be introduced into the Police Service of Northern Ireland and supported by the necessary Information Technology.
2. The PSNI should carry out a full review of all their procedures for investigating terrorist offences with a view to establishing a dedicated unit along the lines of the Metropolitan Police model (this was recommended in my first report).
3. An Assistant Chief Constable with single responsibility for the Anti- Terrorist Branch should be appointed and be answerable directly to the Chief Constable.
4. There should be Service Level Agreements between all departments and external partner agencies to ensure clarity and understanding of each other's roles.
5. The Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) of murder and other serious crimes should receive full co-operation and relevant intelligence from Special Branch particularly where Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) are suspects for murder or other serious crime.
6. Any conflict between the investigation of crime and the protection of agents should be managed through a decision making process overseen by the Regional Assistant Chief Constable.
7. Regionally based Special Branch officers should come under the command of the Regional Assistant Chief Constable.
8. All Regional Special Branch officers of Detective Inspector rank and above should attend the Senior Investigating Officer's course.
9. A pre-requisite for selection to Special Branch should be evidence of investigative experience.
10. Guidelines on the use of CHIS in countering terrorism should be completed as a matter of urgency. These must take account of the existing Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
11. An internal strategic review should be undertaken to ensure that CHIS are only employed to achieve a proportionate coverage of the terrorist threat.
12. A full review of training for all agent handlers should be introduced, including integrity issues and the keeping of records.
13. The investigation of murder should be carried out in accordance with the Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO) guidelines on Homicide Investigation.
14. Senior Investigating Officers should attend the nationally accredited SIO course and receive critical incident training on scenarios relevant to Northern Ireland.
15. The PSNI should carry out a full review of all their methods and processes of exhibit management.
16. An overarching strategy group of all relevant agencies (Gold group) should be formed at the outset of any major investigation to ensure effective intelligence sharing and to respond to community concerns.
17. All Senior Investigating Officers dealing with terrorist murders must be adequately vetted in order that they can receive and deal with any sensitive intelligence.
18. An internal investigation department should be established by the PSNI in order that any allegations or suspicions of collusion and corruption can be tackled proactively as well as reactively.
19. Integrity testing and Quality Assurance checks should be carried out to ensure that complete confidence is maintained in the security of source intelligence.
20. A senior liaison committee should support future Enquiries of this nature. This should include senior representation from those agencies involved to ensure proper disclosure and accountability in the decision making process.
21. An independent audit and review of my recommendations relating to the Army and the PSNI should be undertaken within an agreed time frame. This process should include recommendations arising from the Blelloch report.
Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey commenting on the publication of a summary of the Stevens Report today has said that nothing less than a full international judicial inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane and the operations of British agents including Brian Nelson is required to get to the heart of British military policy in Ireland.
Mr Maskey said:
"The UDA attempted to murder me based on the operational objectives of British military/UDA agent Brian Nelson. My close friend Alan Lundy was murdered in my home as a result of collusion between the British military and loyalists.
"Sinn Féin has raised the issue of the British policy of collusion with Loyalists for many years. The role of the British military, through FRU and the RUC through the Special Branch controlled and directed loyalist death squads. This is not about rogue elements within the British system it is about a state policy sanctioned at the highest level,
"Sinn Féin supports the families of those killed in their demand for a full international judicial inquiry. Nothing less will get to the heart of British military policy in Ireland.
"This is not about individual cases or prosecutions it is about a state policy of killing its citizens.
"This was a state policy of brutalising and intimidating the nationalist population. Brian Nelson was just one of the agents used by the state to target nationalists and Sinn Féin activists and political representatives. He was just one part of a wider state policy." ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams tonight spoke at a meeting to launch the Party's Assembly candidates for the Newry and Armagh constituency. Mr. Adams addressed the current crisis in the peace process:
"Tonight is about formally launching our candidates for Newry and Armagh in the Assembly elections. So whatever other issues we have to focus on at this time let's do that first.
So, let me begin by thanking Pat McNamee for his hard work, commitment and dedication over the last five difficult and challenging years in the Assembly.
I also want to thank Margaret and the McNamee family. And seeing as we are nearly in County Down, or in it, I want to thank Mick Murphy and his wife Carol.
I know that all these comrades will remain active in the struggle.
Let me also congratulate Councillor Pat O Rawe, Councillor Davy Hyland and your current MLA Conor Murphy, who is the leader of our Assembly group, for being selected to carry the republican flag in next months elections.
Almost two years ago I stood here in this same room, probably speaking to most of you, about the challenge of the Westminster election that was to take place in June 2002.
At that time no one outside of Newry and Armagh thought you could seriously challenge the SDLP's hold on this seat.
For that matter no one outside Fermanagh and South Tyrone thought Michelle Gildernew could win in that historic constituency which was represented by Bobby Sands.
And sections of the media, the political pundits, the pollsters and the other political parties all promoted Briege Rogers as a dead cert in West Tyrone.
Well, West Tyrone and Fermanagh South Tyrone proved them wrong and here in Newry and Armagh you gave them all the shock of their lives. Conor came close to pulling it off. In the local council elections covering the same area Sinn Fein came out ahead of all our opponents.
Sinn Fein is now the largest party on Newry and Mourne Council and holds 5 seats in Armagh.
Can we do better - yes
You have an excellent team of candidates.
An excellent team of experienced election workers.
And the politics and policies to achieve a great result on May 29th.
The entire organisation should now be on election footing. As Joe Cahill said at the Ard Fheis. We have to proceed on the basis that the elections are going ahead. There is no excuse for not being prepared.
As for the two governments the message is equally clear. A further delay in the elections would erode public confidence in a very significant way.
On Holy Thursday night five years ago your negotiators were locked in discussions in Castle Buildings in Belfast. Cynics thought it was impossible to get an Agreement. But we got the Good Friday Agreement.
87 years ago Irish republicans and socialists, men and women, were mobilising to proclaim a republic on this island. We make no apologies for staying true to that spirit and to that republic. We want to build an Ireland of equals. So, in practical terms, a strong turnout at this weekend's Easter commemorations across the country is vital to show the establishment and the media that we are united, confident and will not be deflected.
The momentum of change is unstoppable. It can be delayed. That is true. But the only question is the timetable. Change cannot be stopped as long as we keep our eyes on the prize, as long as we are able to take risks for peace.
The roots of the current crisis lie in unionisms inability to come to terms with change, the willingness of the British government to acquiesce to a unionist veto and resistance from elements within the British system -- those who still think that the Force Research Unit and Brian Nelson were doing a great job.
Most immediately this impasse can be tracked to the decision by the Ulster Unionist Council last September when it adopted anti-agreement positions promoted by Jeffrey Donaldson's wing of the party and later endorsed by David Trimble.
In part this was driven by the electoral challenge posed by the DUP. In effect anti-agreement forces have dominated the agenda since then. Allegations about IRA activities, while a genuine concern for the unionist constituency, and others, were seized upon as an excuse to demand and secure suspension of the political institutions.
The British Government did this at the behest of the Ulster Unionists, and in breach of the Good Friday Agreement, throwing the process into crisis.
This was wrong. The continued suspension of the political institutions remains a critical issue in the current situation.
However, central to the crisis is the failure, five years later, to implement the Agreement.
The British Prime Minister Mr. Blair admitted this in his October speech in Belfast.
The Good Friday Agreement
The substance of the Good Friday Agreement is about the rights and entitlements of citizens. The purpose of the Joint Declaration should be to ensure that those rights and entitlements not yet in place become a reality in the time ahead.
The democratic rights and entitlements of citizens are not negotiating chips to be bartered for or withheld. They are absolute and should be defended. Human rights, equality, the tackling of unemployment differential, the targeting of social need, the rights of Irish language speakers, the achievement of an acceptable policing service and an accountable criminal justice system, none of these should be subject to barter or a veto. They should have been delivered under the terms of the Agreement. That is the position of the Good Friday Agreement. That is our position. That is the position the two governments and the UUP signed up for five years ago.
The Good Friday Agreement was the culmination of an enormous collective effort by the two governments and the parties to tackle the causes of conflict.
It was about change - fundamental and deep-rooted change across all aspects of society.
The Agreement with its new institutions, including its all-Ireland structures, was voted for by the overwhelming majority of people on this island.
It continues to hold the promise of a new beginning for everyone.
The Sinn Féin focus in the last five years has been to see the Agreement implemented, to deal with all of the issues, including that of arms; all arms and all armed groups.
There has been progress. The institutions didn't function for very long but when they did they worked. And were very popular. Everyone would accept that for most people things are much better today than they were 5 or 10 years ago.
However, the reality is that the Good Friday Agreement has not been implemented in full.
It has been suspended again and again.
And the effect of each suspension is to encourage anti-agreement forces, to damage confidence in the Agreement and to damage the credibility of the Agreement as an effective tool for change. This highlights the fundamental problem that besets us -- British policy in Ireland, even a benign policy -- is an interfence in Irish affairs.
Sinn Féin has been addressing all of this in our discussions with the two governments and the other parties.
During all of this the SDLP has spent its time attacking Sinn Féin with language which makes Jeffrey Donaldson look like a moderate.
These negotiations have been very long and difficult but we have made considerable progress on a number of specific areas. These include policing, criminal justice, demilitarisation, the stability of the institutions, human rights and equality.
But critical issues remain. These include; the continuing suspension of the political institutions, the UUP commitment to the stability of the institutions, sanctions and a timeframe for the transfer of powers on policing and criminal justice.
However, we have done our best and over a week ago we closed on all this.
I have said this many times and I repeat it again this evening. The sanctions mechanism proposed by the two governments contravenes the safeguards built in the Agreement. Sinn Féin objects to and rejects its inclusion in the Joint Declaration. It is specifically aimed at this party. Sanctions against any party are unacceptable unless they are within the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Demands that we accept or collude with the proposed sanctions are absurd.
Last Thursday the two governments were expected to issue their Joint Declaration but they did not do so.
Instead, there was a huge amount of disinformation as they tried to put their own 'spin' on events, briefing the media that the hold-up was due to a lack of movement on the part of republicans. This is not true.
There were ongoing contacts between the two governments and Sinn Féin in the course of which Sinn Fein asked that the Joint Declaration should be published. We said so publicly.
Last Saturday, Martin McGuinness and I met with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. I spoke by phone with Tony Blair. As a consequence the two governments announced that they hoped to publish the Declaration shortly. They also acknowledged that it is important that all parties and groups join the governments in upholding and implementing the Good Friday Agreement in full. They said that 'fulfilling the promise and potential of the Good Friday Agreement is a collective responsibility.'
So there is agreement that the basis for definitively ending conflict -- conflict resolution - is a collective one.
Martin and I again met with the two governments on Sunday, we also met with the Taoiseach and I spoke again at length with Mr. Blair.
We gave them the final copy of the IRA statement was passed to the two governments.
The following day Martin and I travelled to Belfast where we met Mr. Trimble and the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party.
The IRA Statement
They were shown a copy of the IRA statement. I can tell you that this statement is clear and unambiguous.
It contains a number of highly significant and positive elements unparalleled in any previous statement by the IRA leadership, either in this or in any other phase of their struggle.
In my view the importance of this is not lost on the two governments. Why otherwise, did the two governments publicly commend the Army statement as proof of the IRAs desire to make the peace process work. I find it incredible therefore that they have not yet acted on the basis of this unprecedented contribution.
The statement sets out the status of the IRA cessation. Whatever your attitude to the armed struggle the reality is that there have been cessations for almost nine years. Hundreds of lives have been saved and despite huge provocation by the British Crown Forces and killings by their allies in the unionist paramilitaries alongside attacks on beleaguered communities, the IRA has held its discipline.
You don't have to be an IRA supporter to recognise the strains and stresses on that organisation and the sacrifices of its volunteers, its families and its support base, over a long period. I, along with the vast majority of people in Ireland, value the IRA cessation. It is the main anchor for the peace process.
It was achieved by a huge amount of work at a time when those who are presently attacking republicans with their editorial comment and their snide commentary were loud also in the useless politics of denunciation and censorship.
The IRA statement also outlines its future intentions. I come back to the British governments attitude to this statement. It welcomed the many positive aspects of the Army statement, the obvious progress and the clear desire of the IRA to make the peace process work. Imagine that!
So, again we have to ask after 30 years of conflict, and almost a decade of peace making, why the huge effort to wring different words out of P. O'Neill? Why not let people use words of their own choice. Actions or lack of actions speak louder than words.
Does anyone expect to get an IRA statement written on a securocrats laptop? Does anyone expect that rejectionist unionism which dismisses republican words as meaningless, will now provide the dictionary for the IRA?
The IRA also stated its attitude to the issue of arms. The statement is clear about the Army's willingness to put arms beyond use.
So what more do they want? Who is setting the agenda? Are the lessons of conflict resolution lost? Or have those who never learned it back in the ascendancy?
I consider it to be a great honour to be an Irish republican, and to be a leader of this party. Leaders lead. We do not drive people before us as if they were a flock of sheep. Whatever else can be said about Irish republicans they are not sheep. Our leadership has a strategy. It is working. It has transformed the situation. Others have played their part and I commend them.
The Taoiseach has a huge responsibility in all of this.
So too has Mr. Blair. He has done a lot. He has to do more. He has to embrace the contribution that republicans have made to this process. We are not asking him for plaudits. We are asking him to build on the contribution we have single-mindedly built over a long period.
All of us have a lot to do, that includes Mr Trimble. And us.
We will not dodge our responsibilities.
A primary objective of the peace process is the end to the conflict. It is also a clear objective of Sinn Féin's strategy. Sinn Féin is unequivocal about this. Furthermore we are wedded to the Mitchell Principles.
So what is to be done?
The Joint Declaration and all other statements should be published. It is as simple as that.
The commitments contained in all the statements should be implemented. By all sides. The Brits. The IRA. The Irish government. The unionists. Everyone.
Is the British government up for this?
Time will tell.
Are the unionists up for it?
There is a sizeable unionist constituency which is up for it. Unionists have concerns and republicans must move to meet these concerns. Those who claim to be in the leadership of pro-Agreement unionism need to set a pro-Agreement agenda. They need to stop the agenda being set by rejectionist unionists both inside and outside the unionist party.
Is Sinn Féin up for it?
The answer is a word unionist political leaders need to learn. The answer is Yes.
Sinn Féin is up for making this work. Our activists and supporters are up for it.
Is the IRA up for it?
In my view they are.
Republicans have stretched ourselves repeatedly to keep the peace process on track. The people have responded positively to this.
The people we represent have rights. So does everyone else on this island -- unionist and others alike. We have been through pre-condition, after pre-condition, after pre-condition.
We have seen a new Labour government starting the work which its predecessors refused to contemplate. We have seen a Fianna Fáil led government doing what successive Dublin governments refused to do. We have seen unionism or a majority of it voting for an agreement with the rest of the people of our island.
We are all on a journey. It is always easier to begin a journey. The hard thing is to end it.
Sinn Fein is in this process to the end. We want the British government and the Irish government and the unionists to work with us and to finish the work we have all started. The length of the journey can be shortened and the ups and downs on the road can be smoothed out if we go at it collectively.
If we do it together.
Commenting on the imminent publication of the Stevens Report into British collusion with unionist paramilitaries Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that the report was 'the tip of the iceberg'.
Mr. Adams said:
" When Sinn Féin first raised the issue of the British policy of collusion in the late 1980's we were a lone voice along with the families of those killed in attempting to expose this scandal. We brought this issue into the negotiations and presented a dossier to the British Prime Minister. Last weekend we again raised with the governments the need for a full public judicial inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane.
" The British military through FRU and the RUC through the Special Branch controlled and directed the activities of the various loyalist death squads. This was about more than simply passing on information. This was about the deliberate targeting and assassination of citizens. Many of these people were members of my party. It was an attempt to intimidate and brutalise an entire community. In any other country this would bring a government to its knees.
"The limited publication of this Stevens Report is only the tip of the iceberg. It is by no means the end of the matter. Sinn Fein will continue to support the demands of the families for a full public judicial inquiry into the policy of collusion." ENDS
For immediate release: 16/04/03
Speaking at a meeting of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle in Juilianstown, Co. Meath this evening, Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said:
" This evenings meeting of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle is an opportunity to update our party leadership on the developing situation within the peace process, and around our efforts to secure the publication by the two governments of the Joint Declaration. In this respect contact with the two governments is continuing even as we meet here this evening.
" The substance of the Good Friday Agreement is about the rights and entitlements of citizens. The purpose of the Joint Declaration should ensure that those rights and entitlements not yet achieved after five years become a reality in the time ahead. The rights and entitlements of any citizen cannot be subject to vetoes or preconditions. Peace with justice means equality, respect and human dignity for everyone.
" Sinn Féin's focus is on building on the significant progress that we have made in our negotiations with the governments in recent days and weeks. And on the opportunity presented by the IRA statement that was passed to the governments at the weekend. Regrettably, in my view there are those within unionism and within the British system who are still locked into the old agenda - who want to demolish the peace process not build it.
" One of the difficulties in this negotiation is that the unionists have left their negotiation to the British government. There is no clarity or certainty around UUP intentions. Incidentally, there is no certainty of completion in the Joint Declaration. It is full of conditionality within a protracted process. The IRA statement is clear and unambiguous. Even the British government has acknowledged that it shows the desire of the IRA to make the peace process work. That is an unprecedented development.
" It should be built on. The two governments should publish their Joint Declaration; the British government should lift the suspension of the institutions and move to the election of a new Assembly." ENDS
Speaking in the Dáil debate on the peace process Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD said the process was at a "very crucial stage". He said the IRA had taken an "unprecedented initiative" and the two governments and all parties should respond. He urged the publication of the governments' Joint Declaration.
He said: "This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and it also marks another very crucial stage in the peace process. As we speak it is an inconclusive stage and the future implementation of the Agreement may depend on decisions made in the next few days.
"It is very important, therefore, that we approach these Statements with some restraint. Sinn Féin negotiators are working at full stretch to achieve progress. I know that both Governments are working diligently also. It is my wish and that of my Sinn Féin colleagues that collectively, all parties and both governments will overcome the difficulties of this phase and move forward together.
"I urge the two Governments to publish their Joint Declaration. It should have been published last Thursday when my party colleagues and I, along with the others parties, were in Hillsborough.
"While the Joint Declaration has not yet been published, we have had a quite unprecedented initiative by the IRA in which they have outlined to both governments their position in detail in an effort to move the process forward.
"Sinn Féin has been engaged in intensive efforts to see the current deadlock ended and the Good Friday Agreement implemented in full. The IRA has responded positively to this. The two governments have recognised the positive nature of the IRA response and have acknowledged the desire of the IRA to make the peace process work. So what is the current delay about? The two governments, the UUP, all of us, should seize this opportunity.
"On Sunday 13 April the IRA undertook to draw up a statement setting out their views on recent developments in the peace process. They said they did so because of their commitment to this process and their desire to see it succeed. In their statement to the governments they set out their attitude on the current disposition of the IRA and the status of their cessation, their future intentions, their attitude to a re-engagement with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning and engagement in a process of putting arms beyond use and a third act of putting arms beyond use to be verified under the agreed scheme.
"The IRA said they shared concepts and draft elements on these matters with others and, following an internal consultation, closed on a statement which was passed onto the two Governments.
"I believe this was indeed an unprecedented engagement by the IRA. It deserves to be recognised as such. All parties and both governments should respond positively.
"On Sunday evening last Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams stated that the governments had acknowledged that the IRA statement was positive. He found it incredible that they had not acted on the basis of this unprecedented intervention. He also stated that if their request for clarification was, as they claimed, a genuine attempt to advance matters at this point then all obstacles to progress should be removed. I understand that clarification was subsequently given.
"We need to put all this in context. The reality is that the Good Friday Agreement has not been fully implemented. The Agreement was the culmination of an enormous collective effort by the two governments and the parties to tackle the causes of conflict. It was about change - fundamental and deep-rooted change in Ireland.
"There has been significant progress. In the limited time that the institutions existed they worked and were popular. Real progress was made and the hope of further progress was generated.
"The talks have been focused on implementing the Agreement. In our discussions with the two governments and the other parties we have made considerable progress on a number of specific areas. These include policing, criminal justice, and the stability of the institutions, demilitarisation, human rights and equality.
"But critical issues remain. These include, the transfer of power on policing and justice and the suspended status of the institutions and the absence of any clear commitment from the Ulster Unionist Party that it will work the institutions in a sustainable way. There is also the attempt to introduce sanctions against Sinn Féin, which are clearly outside the terms of the Agreement. This is unacceptable.
"However, we continue to engage on these issues.
"All of the issues in the Good Friday Agreement are issues of entitlements and rights - not subject to precondition by governments, political parties or armed groups. This time five years ago the Good Friday Agreement would have been seen as an impossible achievement. Five years on let us not underestimate the advances that have been made.
"I wish all the negotiators well and look forward to real progress in the coming days."ENDS
Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP and Ard Chomhairle member Joe Cahill today launched the party's Easter Lily Campaign and announced details of more than 40 events and commemorations taking place around the country this Easter weekend. Speaking at a press conference in Belfast Mr. Doherty said: "The two governments should publish their Joint Declaration and seize this opportunity to advance the peace process and see the Agreement implemented."
Mr. Doherty said
" This year marks the 87th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. It is an important time for Irish republicans. It is a time for remembering our friends and colleagues who have given their lives in pursuit of our republican ideals and goals. It is a time for reflecting on these ideals.
" We recall the words of the 1916 Proclamation - an historic document - one of the most progressive documents ever written. The Proclamation spells out the demand for social and economic justice and democracy, of cherishing all the children of the nation equally, irrespective of colour, religion, gender, ability or race, equally.
" Easter is also a time of renewal - a time when we as Irish republicans rededicate ourselves to the legitimate and achievable goals of independence and unity for the people of this island.
" The past year has undoubtedly been both a challenging and indeed very difficult, year for republicans and the peace process. We made a massive breakthrough in the elections in the 26 counties yet ended the last year with the fourth suspension of the political institutions by the British government at the behest of unionism,
" The efforts made by the Sinn Fein leadership in recent days and weeks to secure the full implementation of the Agreement and the positive response of the IRA to those efforts should now be built upon by the two governments and all of us in political leadership. The two governments should publish their Joint Declaration and seize this opportunity to advance the peace process and see the Agreement implemented.
" There are over 40 major commemorations throughout the island and scores more smaller events. Internationally many Irish exiles will also take part in commemorations.
"I am calling on people to wear an Easter Lily and to make this years Easter Commemorations and events bigger and better than ever before."ENDS
Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has called on the British government to 'detail Brian Nelsons status within the British military in the period leading to his death.'
Alex Maskey said:
" Brian Nelsons role as British military intelligence agent has been well documented. It has been common knowledge for some considerable time that he was a central participant in murders carried out by the UDA while a British agent.
" What is not so clear however is his British military status since his release from prison in 1997. In order to clear up any confusion which might exist it is important that the British government spells out Brian Nelson's association with the British army. Questions as to whether Brian Nelson remained on the army payroll or whether he was in receipt of a military pension should be answered as a matter of urgency.
" Given the period of imprisonment served by Brian Nelson for involvement in UDA related activity any remaining association with the British army in the time leading to his death must be examined." ENDS
Speaking after he returned from his third trip to Colombia to attend the trial of the three Irishmen being detained there, Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said, "it is clear now more than ever that the charges against these three men were based on half-truths, innuendo and pure fantasy". He also said "the Irish Government must directly intervene to secure their immediate release and return to Ireland".
Deputy Crowe said: "It became very clear very quickly in the course last weeks trial of the Colombia Three that the prosecution case against them had absolutely collapsed. It is also clear now more then ever that the charges
against these men were based on half-truths, innuendo and pure fantasy. The prosecutions two key witnesses were totally discredited by the weight of evidence, which included video evidence, offered by the defence. The fact that
there are over sixty affidavits offered on behalf of the defendants as well a strong rebuttal of the so-called forensic evidence against them shows that this trial was a sham and a gross abuse of any semblance of justice from the very beginning. Nothing that was provided to the media and published without question in the aftermath the men's arrest in terms of so-called evidence, like the satellite photos, the forensic traces nor the eye-witness statements have stood up to any sort of cross examination. All have been rubbished.
"While I am personally confident that these men will eventually be found innocent of these serious charges against them I am very concerned that the trial has once again been halted. It is now not due to reconvene until June. I am also concerned at the fact that other key witnesses for the defence, including those who made the video of one of the defendants in Ireland during the time he was suppose to be in Colombia were not called to give their evidence.
"We can not allow this injustice to be maintained. The Irish Government has a duty to directly intervene with the Colombian authorities on behalf of these three Irishmen and to secure their immediate release from prison and safe return to Ireland." ENDS
Commenting on the statement by the two governments this morning, Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said:
" This mornings statement from the two governments recognises the positive IRA statement and the commitment to making the peace process work.
"This follows on from a statement from the two governments on Saturday saying that 'fulfilling the promise and the potential of the Good Friday Agreement is a collective responsibility'.
" Last night we had a statement from the IRA which made clear their commitment to this process and their desire to see it succeed. They also said they had presented another statement to the two governments and clearly this is a positive intervention,
" It is my belief that there is now an opportunity to get the peace process back on track. These are positive developments, which should be built upon. The two governments should now move and publish their Joint Declaration." ENDS
Commenting on the request by the two governments for clarification, the Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, said,
"On Sunday, 13th April, the leadership of the IRA forwarded a detailed statement setting out its view of the current phase of the peace process. This was accomplished in the most difficult circumstances, compounded by the leaking and misleading briefing to the media on earlier drafts and concepts which had been shared with the two governments.
"I have seen and read closely the IRA statement. It is clear and unambiguous. The two governments have acknowledged that the IRA statement is positive. I therefore find it incredible that they have not acted on the basis of this unprecedented intervention. They persist in their refusal to publish their Joint Declaration.
"However, if, their request for clarification is, as they claim, a genuine attempt to advance matters at this point then all obstacles to progress should be removed."ENDS
Commenting on the announcement that the IRA leadership have closed on a statement of their intentions and passed it onto the two governments, Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey said:
"I want to welcome this evenings announcement from the IRA that the two governments have received a statement of their intentions. This is clearly an important development.
"The onus is now on the two governments to publish their Joint Declaration. Sinn Féin would like to see all statements issued.
"I can confirm that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness acted as a conduit for the two governments with the IRA. "ENDS
Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness speaking following a meeting with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin this morning said:
"This morning Gerry Adams and I met the Taoiseach. We repeated our view to him that the two governments should now publish the Joint Declaration.
"We also raised the need for a public inquiry into the killing of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane. There should be no more stalling. The case for this is clear cut. The forthcoming Stevens Report, his third, cannot be permitted to become a barrier to this.
"The Sinn Féin leadership has been engaged in an exhaustive round of meetings in recent weeks determined to resolve the crisis and to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is implemented in full.
"That is what the two governments and the parties collectively agreed five years ago. That is what the people want.
"Yesterday, we said that our discussions with the two governments on the measures needed to implement the Agreement are now finished.
"There are critical issues which have yet to be properly dealt with - sanctions, no timeframe for the transfer of power on policing and justice, the suspension of the institutions and no commitment from the UUP on sustaining the institutions.
"But in reality the negotiations are concluded.
"There is therefore no excuse, no rational reason for the governments delaying the publication of the plan - their Joint Declaration - setting out how they intend to fully implement the Good Friday in all its aspects.
"Everyone can then respond to that - the political parties, the unionists and ourselves, as well as the armed groups, including the IRA.
"But we should not lose sight of what this is about. It is about implementing an Agreement that guarantees peoples rights and entitlements. These are not concessions, to be given or withheld at the behest or veto of anyone else, whether a government, a political party or an armed group.
"The Good Friday Agreement is the property of the people - not the governments and the people have a right to know how the governments plan to implement the Agreement and how the ret of us will respond to it."ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP and Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP are meeting with US Ambassador Richard this afternoon, speaking before the meeting Mr. Adams said:
"I look forward to meeting the Ambassador again. His visit is a measure of the continued interest of the US government and especially of Irish America in our peace process.
"I spoke to the Ambassador on Tuesday morning and I believe that he is very familiar with all of the issues and the difficulties confronting us.
"I have also spoken today to the British and Irish governments.
"Sinn Féin's focus in on making the Good Friday Agreement work - of getting it implemented in full. That is what we collectively agreed five years ago. That is what people want.
"Our discussions with the two governments on the measures needed to implement the Agreement are in my view now finished. There are critical issues, which have yet to be properly dealt with. But in our discussions with the governments we told them several days ago that the negotiations are concluded. There is now, therefore, no reason or excuse for the governments to delay the publication of their plan - their Joint Declaration - setting out how they intend to complete the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Then let others respond to it, including the armed groups, including the IRA.
"But we should not lose sight of what this is about. It is about implementing an Agreement that guarantees peoples rights and entitlements. These are not concessions to be given or held at the behest or veto of any one else, whether a government, a political party or an armed group."ENDS
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality, and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the Minister for Justice to defy the EU and withdraw the proposed Immigration Bill debated at second stage in the Dáil earlier today. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:
"There is no doubt that immigration and asylum policy in this state needs a massive overhaul, to reflect a genuine commitment to equality and human rights, and Sinn Féin has called for a positive, compassionate, and anti-racist immigration and asylum policy. But the Government's new Immigration Bill is in no way positive, compassionate, or anti-racist. It also does not conform with Ireland's human rights obligations and may cause unnecessary deaths. It is a Bill of questionable legality being introduced under an EU imperative, to comply with the 1990 Schengen Agreement. It not only acquiesces to, but seeks to enforce the Fortress Europe Agenda -- something that Ireland as a nation should actively oppose as unjust and hypocritical. The Bill debated in the House today is totally unacceptable to Sinn Féin, and we strongly oppose it.
"Ireland must defy the European Directive and refuse to introduce such legislation as it violates international law. If we are then taken to the European Court of Justice, this would allow us to take the lead in challenging it at European level, as we should have done at an earlier stage. I urge the Government most strongly to reconsider this Bill, to withdraw it, and in its place to introduce positive immigration reforms such as those advocated by Sinn Féin." ENDS
Responding to the comments of the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister in Downing Street this evening, Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA said:
" On the 5th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, one thing is beyond dispute, the Agreement has not been implemented in full.
" The two governments should now tell us how they intend to implement the Agreement.
" The Taoiseach and Prime Minister have spoken about clarity and certainty. They should publish the Joint Declaration immediately to ensure that there is clarity and certainty on the two governments' position. This would allow everyone to make their own judgements on this.
" Sinn Féin has made clear that critical issues remain. These include;
" These issues need to be addressed consistent with the terms of the Good Friday Agreement". ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP responding to the news that the two governments have cancelled the visit of the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister to Hillsborough said:
"Sinn Féin calls on the two governments to publish the Joint Declaration and their other public commitments now.
"Sinn Féin has put a huge effort into these negotiations.
"The people are entitled to know what has been negotiated.
"The people are entitled to know what the governments intend to do."ENDS
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP this morning addressing a press conference to mark the fact that we are almost 5 years on from the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
The West Belfast MP said,
"The Good Friday Agreement was the culmination of an enormous collective effort by the two governments and the parties to tackle the causes of conflict.
"It was about change - fundamental and deep-rooted change across all aspects of society.
'The Agreement with its new institutions, including its all-Ireland structures, was voted for by the overwhelming majority of people on this island. It had and continues to hold the promise of a new beginning for everyone. The Sinn Féin focus in the last five years has been to see the Agreement implemented, to deal with all of the issues, including that of arms.
'There has been significant progress. In the limited time that the institutions existed they worked and were very popular. Clearly things are much better today than they were 5 or 10 years ago.
"However, the reality is that the Good Friday Agreement has not been implemented in full.
"Sinn Féin has been addressing this failure in our discussions with the two governments and the other parties.
"Consequently, we have made considerable progress on a number of specific areas. These include policing, crimiinal justice, and the stability of the institutions, demilitarisation, human rights and equality.
"But critical issues remain. These include, the transfer of power on policing and justice and the suspended status of the institutions and the absence of any clear commitment from the Ulster Unionist Party that it will work the institutions in a sustainable way. There is also the attempt to introduce sanctions against Sinn Féin, which are clearly outside the terms of the Agreement. This is unacceptable.
"However, we continue to engage on these issues.
"There is also a lot of focus in the media about what the IRA is going to do. I am not going to speculate on that but I do want to remind everyone that all of the issues in the Good Friday Agreement are issues of entitlements and rights - not subject to precondition by governments, political parties or armed groups, This time five years ago the Good Friday Agreement would have been seen as an impossible achievement. Five years on let us not underestimate the progress that has been made.
"Sinn Féin will judge any proposals published by the two governments on whether they implement fully and in good faith the Good Friday Agreement.
'This party has not strayed one coma from the Agreement in our call for its implementation by the two governments. In calling on them to fully implement the Agreement we are asking them to do what they undertook to do five years ago. It is now once again hand of history time." ENDS
In the Dáil today, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government, Arthur Morgan TD, called on the Irish government to address the findings of the report, 'Rent Supplement in the Private Rented Sector' by Threshold and Comhairle.
Deputy Morgan said:
"This report has highlighted the urgent need to tackle the problems which exist in relation to rent supplements. People are being forced out of the private rented sector because of the decision taken by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs to limit the amount of rent in respect of which Health Boards may pay rent supplement and not to allow any rent supplement to be paid in cases where rent exceeds this amount.
"Threshold and Comhairle have found that what is being set as reasonable rent levels by Health Boards is not keeping pace with current market conditions. This is causing huge problems for many tenants who cannot find accommodation within the price range specified by their health board. It is nothing less than an irrational mechanism for restraining landlords from raising rents.
"This report has also confirmed what many of us have been aware of from anecdotal evidence and from representations from constituents - that is the refusal of some landlords to take tenants on rent supplements and the difficulty caused by the requirement for landlords to sign rent supplement forms.
"I commend Threshold and Comhairle for this report, which should have been carried out by the Department of the Environment and Local Government. We now need to see a determined response from the Government to address these issues which are contributing to the growing housing crisis in Ireland."ENDS