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'Seize the opportunity for peace' - Sinn Féin MEPs

28 September, 2005

Sinn Féin MEPs Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald have today said that parties and governments must all seize the opportunities arising from the historic opportunity presented by the IRA putting its weapons beyond use. In particular, the two MEPs said that there are now 'no more possible excuses for non engagement between the DUP and Sinn Féin'.

Both Sinn Féin MEPs made their comments at a press conference in the European Parliament, Strasbourg to discuss the opportunities which had arisen from the IRA initiative yesterday (26.09.05).

At the press conference it was announced that Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams would be travelling to Brussels next week.

In a joint statement both MEPs said:

"Yesterday's historic announcement by the Irish Republican Army has significantly advanced the potential for peace in Ireland, and this opportunity must be grasped by those who are genuinely interested in bringing about an end to conflict.

"Those of us committed to peace building and conflict resolution must seize the moment. There can be no more possible excuses for non engagement. The excuse of IRA weapons is no longer tenable. Those who seek to minimise the significance of the IRA's announcement, and the potential for progress which this offers, are doing a grave disservice to their constituents.

"In particular there are now no possible excuses for non engagement between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

"Both the Irish and British Governments have a pivotal role to play in all of this. They must implement the Good Friday Agreement in its entirety, and this includes the outstanding issues: equality, policing, human rights, people on the run and victims. There must also be progress on other issues, including prisoners and Northern representation in the Oireachtas.

"We recognise that republicans and nationalists will have to come to terms with the new realities which have been presented. Equally, unionists require space to absorb this. Reinstatement of the political institutions benefits both the nationalist and unionist community. Sinn Féin has been engaged in a programme of outreach work with the unionist community and it is important that we build upon this work and seek a joint way forward on a broad range of political and socio-economic matters.

"Over the course of the next days and weeks we will be briefing people from throughout the EU on the significance of yesterday's announcements. We will ask them to continue their valuable support and assistance in the search for a lasting peace in Ireland. One important part of this will be the visit of Gerry Adams to Brussels next week" ENDS

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