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Adams slams Irish government on Stormont negotiation

20 January, 2015 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams speaking in the Dáil today on the recent Stormont House Agreement accused the Irish government of endorsing the British government’s austerity agenda and he specifically accused the Taoiseach of being ‘untruthful’ in his claim that ‘Martin McGuinness was prepared to accept a lesser deal’.

The Sinn Féin leader said: “as someone who has dealt with every Irish government since Charlie Haughey’s time, including another Fine Gael government, this administration led by Mr. Kenny is the most deficient, inefficient and incompetent in dealing with the north”.

Check against Delivery:

Speaking in the debate Gerry Adams repeated his earlier accusation that the Irish government approach to the negotiations was ‘amateurish and hamfisted’ and ‘little more than a charade. It was not a serious endeavour.’

Referring to the Joint Paper tabled by the Irish and British governments Mr. Adams said:

“The paper sought to nationalise austerity with the Irish government supporting British Tory efforts to hurt the most vulnerable citizens in the north. It made no mention of Acht na Gaeilge or a Bill of Rights.

It also acquiesced to the British government’s use of ‘national security’ to deny information to victims and to the British demand to end the right of families of victims to an inquest in the coroners’ courts.

This would have left victim families, including the Ballymurphy families whom the Taoiseach has met, and who have campaigned for decades for the right to Article 2 compliance inquests, with no access to the crucial inquest system.

Without consulting victims’ families the Government signed up to ending this system!

Nor was there any guarantee in the paper tabled by the two governments that the Dublin and Monaghan bombings would be considered under the proposed ‘civil Inquisitorial’ process under the new Historical Investigations Unit.”

The Sinn Féin leader reminded the Taoiseach during the Dáil debate that the negotiation led by Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson, reversed many of the proposals put by the two governments.  He said: “The Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Junior Minister may recall that the negotiation eventually only got on the right tracks when Martin McGuinness and I warned the two governments that their proposals were not sustainable.

Now the Taoiseach has made a habit of saying that Martin McGuinness was prepared to accept a lesser deal than I.

He actually described my behaviour as ‘outrageous’. I could take that as a backhanded compliment, but I don’t. Because his assertion is totally untruthful. So why should the Taoiseach say such a thing?

If he put any thought into this remark it is obviously to distract attention from his government’s refusal to develop any strategy for engagement with the British as a co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday and other agreements.

In fact as someone who has dealt with every Irish government since Charlie Haughey’s time, including another Fine Gael government, this administration led by Mr. Kenny is the most deficient, inefficient and incompetent in dealing with the north.

So what was the outcome of our ‘outrageous negotiation?’

The total value of the British government’s revised financial proposals amount to almost £2 billion –double what was originally offered.”

The Sinn Féin leader set out some of the progress made as a result of the Stormont House Agreement.

He said: “On the wider political issues significant progress was achieved. These include:

•The effort to close off access to inquests to the families of victims of the conflict was defeated.

•Ghlacfaidh an dá rialtas le stádas agus meas a bhronnadh ar an Ghaeilege ag teacht le Cart na dTeangacha Réigiúnacha nó Mionlacha ó Chomhairle na hEorpa.

•Work has commenced on the devolution of additional fiscal powers needed to grow the economy can be progressed.

•A detailed proposal on a Commission on Flags, Identity, Culture and Tradition was agreed, including its make-up and remit.

•Legislation on parades will be prepared with proper regard for fundamental rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Historical Investigations Unit will have the full co-operation of all relevant Irish authorities, including disclosure of information and documentation…

Thus far the role of the two governments in this process has been shameful. It needs to improve otherwise the gains made for the peace process over Christmas could be frittered away.

I would urge the Irish government to accept that the success and stability of the peace and political process in the north and the all-island institutions are bigger and more important than any short-sighted selfish electoral political agenda.

Regrettably and, following the progress made there have been some ill-informed comment on aspects of it. For example, there is a claim that the Agreement will see redundancies in the public sector. There will be no compulsory redundancies.

The Stormont House Agreement provides for a voluntary redundancy scheme for public sector workers. The scale of the take-up will be driven by public sector workers, balanced with the need to maintain public services.

Sinn Féin will not repeat the mistakes of this government and allow any scheme to undermine public services in pursuit of savings.

Any scheme will be agreed in consultation with the Trade Unions and Executive Ministers.”

The Sinn Féin leader also called on the Irish government to take action on the extension of voting rights to citizens in the north in Presidential elections. He said: “The decision by the government not to proceed with this recommendation of the Constitutional Convention is deeply disappointing and will anger many citizens in the north who are Irish citizens and believe they should have a say in the election of the President of Ireland.”

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