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SF opposed to any extension of Monday’s deadline - Adams

22 March, 2017 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in Newry tonight at one of a series of Townhall meetings being held by the party across the island emphasised the Sinn Féin view that the current negotiations are an implementation process.

He said: “There cannot be continuous negotiation and re-negotiation of agreements already made. So Sinn Féin is opposed to any extension of Monday’s deadline.”

Gerry Adams said:

“There is only a very short time to form the Executive for the northern Assembly. So far there is no agreement to do this. Sinn Féin has made it clear that there can be no return to the status quo.

Led by Michelle O’Neill our negotiating team has been in daily dialogue with all of the parties and the two governments. There is clearly a desire among the majority of the parties for a step change in how business is done in the political institutions. There is also a consensus on the need for better and transparent good governance on behalf of all of the people and for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

It is possible for agreement to be reached in the coming days. I and others spent this afternoon at Stormont trying to find a resolution to the outstanding issues.

From our point of view this is about an implementation process. There cannot be continuous negotiation and re-negotiation of agreements already made. So Sinn Féin is opposed to any extension of Monday’s deadline or a return to British Direct Rule.

In 2006 the British and Irish governments agreed in a joint statement that the restoration of the political institutions would see the British government’s power to suspend the Assembly lapse for good.

They also agreed, if the Executive was not formed, to begin detailed work on British-Irish partnership arrangements to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is actively developed across its structures and functions.

While the governments have not developed the British Irish partnership arrangements envisaged if the Executive was not formed at that time, the British government’s power to suspend the Assembly is gone. Of course this legislation could be reintroduced at any time but this would be a very serious act of bad faith, which the Irish Government would be compelled to oppose. We look to the Taoiseach to make that clear. 

As Martin McGuinness said in his letter of resignation; ‘Successive British governments have undermined the process of change by refusing to honour agreements, refusing to resolve the issues of the past, while imposing austerity and Brexit against the wishes and best interests of people here’.

The Irish government is the co-equal guarantor of the Good Friday and subsequent Agreements. The Taoiseach needs to make it clear by deed as well as word that the government will implement in full its obligations and hold the British government to account for its obligations, internationally if need be.

 Next week the Tories will trigger article 50. The DUP position on Brexit, like the position of the English Tories, is entirely wrong and will have huge consequences for the people of the North, and especially the border communities. It is already clear that Brexit will mean a hard border, will cost jobs, and have a devastating impact on our agricultural and agri-foods sectors.

 That is why Sinn Féin opposed Brexit and that is why we developed our proposal ‘The Case for the North to achieve Designated Special Status within the EU’ and went on a major diplomatic offensive to build support for it. The position of Special Status is now supported by Fianna Fáil and Labour in Leinster House and by the majority of parties and MLAs in the Assembly.

 There is an urgent imperative for all parties and independents who share this view to form a coalition. Regardless of any other issue Sinn Féin is totally committed to this approach. We will support all of the sectors who will be disadvantaged by this unfair refusal by the Tories in London to accept the democratic will of the people of this part of Ireland and across the island.

 So, we will bury our friend Martin McGuinness tomorrow and move directly from his graveside to urgently do our utmost to get the Executive and the Assembly restored and working. The election pointed the way forward. Unionist rule failed and ended. Direct Rule failed and ended. Martin McGuinness made it clear that the way forward is through respect, equality, and integrity. Sinn Féin’s approach is not about majorities and minorities, it is about rights for all.”

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