Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Adams - Intensive efforts to get the peace process back on track must begin now

15 May, 2005

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP and the party's Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness have been in contact in recent days with the Irish and British governments and the US administration and have called for intensive efforts to get the peace process back on track.

Mr. Adams said:

I believe that there is now a real opportunity to complete the work of bringing about a lasting peace. Sinn Féin's approach to all of this is straight-forward.

We want to see the Good Friday Agreement implemented in full.

We want to work with the DUP, the UUP and the SDLP in the restored political institutions.

We want to see the all-Ireland institutions developed.

We want to see an end to all armed groups.

We want to be part of a policing service that is supported by all of the community.

We want to see equality and human rights reflected across society.

But the reality is that the Good Friday Agreement is in cold storage. The political institutions have been suspended for three years and progress, which had been made in the economy, in human rights and in equality is being reversed every day by unaccountable British direct rule ministers. Two major negotiations involving republicans, unionists and the Irish and British Governments achieved much progress. But crucially they failed to put the process back on track.

This is the context in which I made my appeal to the IRA on April 6th. I set out my view of the way forward in clear and unambiguous terms. And I hope that the IRA will support such a position.

But others must also recognise their responsibilities.

In last December's talks the DUP moved to accept the Good Friday Agreement and the principle of power-sharing. So now their participation is a matter of timing. I am not naïve about all of this. I know that even if the political institutions are restored the effort to bring about equality will continue to be a battle a day for some time to come. Unionism comes to the process of change reluctantly. But these are difficulties that can be overcome. None of this is impossible.

However, if the DUP believe that progress can be put off for a generation they are wrong. The two governments have a duty to move ahead with the implementation of the Agreement. People will not wait for another generation for basic human rights and entitlements. Nor should they be asked to.

The British and Irish governments need to acknowledge that they too have responsibilities. They have contributed to the stagnation which exists in the process. They too have an active role to play if this opportunity is to succeed.

In a ten page script this week regarding the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern continues to jibe at Sinn Féin. But did not devote even one sentence to the responsibilities of the Irish government. This is not good enough.

The Minister needs to move beyond party politics. The Irish government needs to act positively. It must defend Irish national interests just as the British government at all times is driven by British national interests. The Irish government must become an advocate of Irish unity just as the British government defends the union.

Sinn Féin is ready to do business. We have received a renewed mandate from the electorate to pursue our initiative. We are the largest pro-Agreement party and the largest nationalist party in the Six Counties. We take this responsibility very seriously. We know that nationalists, across the island, are looking to us to play our part.

In recent days I have spoken with the British and Irish governments and have urged them to get back to the task of rebuilding the peace process as quickly as possible. I believe that the coming months will open up a huge opportunity and if it is to succeed it will require even more determination and effort than any other time over the last decade."ENDS

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