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Adams - nationalists looking to Dublin to ensure delivery of Agreement

19 February, 2004

Sinn Fein President and West Belfast MP Gerry Adams speaking this evening at an event in West Belfast attended by the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said:

"I welcome the Taoiseach's visit here. I have read his remarks in Coleraine and I welcome these also. I am broadly in agreement with the broad thrust of his comments, especially his reiteration of 'the Government's role as co-guarantor with the British Government of the Good Friday Agreement'.

"But the Taoiseach should know that Republicans and Nationalists, particularly here in the North will ask what does that mean in terms of their lives and their rights and entitlements as Irish citizens. They want delivery on these issues and they look to our government, as a co-guarantor, to ensure that delivery.

"So what are the issues that require delivery? I won't rehearse all of them here but they include crucially the suspension by the British Government of the institutions, they include the gutting of the electoral register and the denial to citizens of the right to vote.

"There is also huge dissatisfaction at the British Government's refusal to publish the Cory Report despite commitments to the families involved that this would be done. In fact the Taoiseach should be aware that the issue of collusion remains a huge issue.

"Attacks by loyalist elements continue. Last night's attack on a woman of 105 and others in the north of this city are sad proof of that. There are also issues which are directly the responsibility of the Irish Government. This includes the status of the Irish language and proper funding and resourcing for it. It includes the issue of prisoners and most importantly the right of Northerners to have representation and participation in political institutions in Dublin.

" I note Taoiseach you are aware of all these issues and others. Your visit today gives you the chance to discuss at first hand the concerns and hopes of people here. It also gives you the opportunity to hear the details of the social and economic needs of the citizens in the West Belfast partnership board area".

The Sinn Fein West Belfast MP also spoke about the Partnership Board and the problems faced by the people of WB.

" The level of deprivation and social need outlined in the report is an urgent call to action. Many of the problems faced by West Belfast can be found in communities across Ireland. We have much to share and learn from these communities. The difficulties facing West Belfast have been exasperated by decades of structured political discrimination and conflict. There is a need to address all of this, as well as the socio-economic issues on an all Ireland level. And so it is welcome that the Taoiseach is here today

"The 'statement of need' demonstrates the scale of resources required to address need in West Belfast and a new way of delivering public services. This will require public services, government departments, community representatives and the private sector working to redress decades of discrimination and disadvantage.

"These issues can be resolved by True Partnerships.Partnership at the Governmental/Executive level, Partnership at a city and

constituency level and partnerships delivering local public services. The experience of the West Belfast Economic Taskforce shows that the

Partnership approach can deliver. Following our lobby the Executive sponsored the initiative and established a partnership of departments, community representatives and private business.

"This process allowed everyone to think outside their respective boxes and address complex interrelated problems.Through this process, the Taskforce developed creative solutions to the economic problems across all of West Belfast.

"While there was a delay in delivering these recommendations we have now secured £8 million for Job Assist Centres, £27 million for redevelopment of Mackies and we are currently completing a bid in excess of £20million from the new Integrated Development Fund.

"While theses are large scale interventions more needs to be done. We need £30million over the next 3rys to deal with educational underachievement (figures from BELB). We need 4200 new houses over the next 5 years. (NIHE)

"The Taskforce process demonstrates the ability of partnerships to create solution and oversee change.However for a partnership to be successful we now know that we require to departments willing to truly engage and must have budgets to allow for the implementation of their recommendations.

"For the power of partnerships to be unleashed will require a change in the delivery of public services. A change which I believe is happening. And it will require the allocation of additional resources to meet the challenge of regeneration.

"A first step would be to resource the West Belfast Partnership Board and its member groups so, along with political representatives, the communities view for can be heard.

"I would hope that the production of the statement of need is another step in addressing the multiple deprivation experienced in West Belfast.

Thanks to the West Belfast Partnership Board".ENDS

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