Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Comments by Gerry Adams MP - 1 March 1994

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has this evening said:

"Mr James Molyneaux's assertion yesterday that 'the peace process has run its course' is totally and absolutely wrong.

"This sentiment may be a reflection of the Unionist party's hopes and objectives, but it certainly does not deal with the reality of the situation. There is a continued need for cool heads and calm management by all those committed to the peace process, as the Unionists attempt to use their voting leverage at Westminster to win further concessions from John Major's government, which is now facing into yet another cabinet crisis over Michael Heseltine's testimony at the Scott inquiry.

"At our party's Ard Fheis last weekend, Sinn Féin wholeheartedly endorsed our peace strategy and mandated the party leadership to advance the peace process. This includes all the elements and aspects of this process.

"In my Presidential address, I pointed out how dependent John Major is on the support of his own right wing and the Unionists, as he crisis-manages his government.

"I pointed out that this is a reality within which Sinn Féin needs to adopt our strategy and tactics in the period opening up. I was also critical of Mr Major's handling of the peace process to date. That is a matter of historical record. It is also a period which Republicans are concerned to put behind us. It was a phase, perhaps given the complexities of the situation, that we all had to go through.

"It is now time for Sinn Féin and the British Government to break new ground. I call upon Mr Major to do so and to advance into a new phase of the peace process in this spirit.

"At the Ard Fheis I outlined in some detail, as did other Sinn Féin leaders, the way we would like the British government to engage with us and I hope that these will be given consideration by London.

"In the meantime and allowing time for such consideration, and I am conscious of John Major's difficulties in this regard, the Unionists should be given no more concessions. It would send a positive signal to nationalists therefore if Mr Major did not bend to the Unionists demand for a select committee which they want announced by next week.

"This would mean him standing up to the Unionists but the alternative, like Mr Molyneaux's other proposals for a return to Stormont, is merely an exercise in time wasting. It cannot provide a solution.

"No matter about his own party political concerns, Mr Major should seek to avoid the politics of crisis management in relation to Irish affairs. The peace process needs to follow a carefully plotted course if it is to avoid all the diversions and cul-de-sacs, and lead to a negotiated settlement, which will involve all sections of the people of Ireland, including the significant and necessary contribution of the Unionists.

"So, rather than knee-jerk to unionist ultimatums, deadlines or threats - the London government should reflect on the period before us and the possibilities for peace.

"Sinn Féin is willing to put in the past all that has occurred up to now. I ask John Major to do likewise. I have frequently said that 'a new beginning is needed'. I call upon all who are concerned to establish this, to redouble their efforts to move the situation on, in a manner which takes account not only of all the sensitivities and difficulties involved, but more importantly of the prize of peace which must be the basis for our commitment to this process."