Adams praises historic advance in Basque peace process
Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams TD is in the French Basque Country, attending an international conference on the Basque peace process. The conference takes place the day after ETA announced a definitive end to the organisation.
The conference is organised by the International Contact Group, the International Verification Committee, and Basque civic society and was attended by many of the political parties in the Basque country.
Gerry Adams TD, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and Jonathan Powell were in attendance as part of an international panel which first met in October 2011 as part of the international effort to support the Basque peace process.
Speaking to the conference, Gerry Adams said:
“This is a historic moment for the people of the Basque country. I want to welcome the announcement by ETA and commend all of those who worked for and created this wonderful opportunity to build peace.
“I also want to commend all of those in the Basque Country, and from the international community, including my colleagues here, who have worked consistently over recent years for an end to the conflict.
“On a personal note, I want to remember my friend Fr. Alec Reid who played a pivotal role in the Irish peace process and then spent many years travelling here to help foster the conditions for the momentous progress we have witnessed in the last 24 hours. He would be very pleased with developments. So too will the Rev Harold Good who also has been a champion for peace here and in Ireland.
“The Basque peace process and the courageous steps that have been taken over recent days, and years, like the Irish peace process, are an example of what is possible when people of goodwill never lose hope and never give up.
“I would urge the Spanish and French governments to embrace the new opportunities that now exist. The Spanish government could send a very positive signal of intent for a new future today by agreeing to transfer the several hundred Basque prisoners to prisons closer to their homes. This would not be a sign of weakness but a positive sign of compassion and compromise, especially to the families of those prisoners.
“The issue of victims in a peace process is also hugely important. Reconciliation and healing and dealing thoughtfully and compassionately with the past, is an integral part of any conflict resolution process. People on all sides have been hurt. But anger is not a policy. Revenge is not an option.
“Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death on hunger strike of Bobby Sands MP. Bobby once wrote; ‘Let our revenge be the laughter of our children’. That is my wish for the people of the Basque country and the Spanish state.”