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Gerry Adams Challenges Mitchell Reiss attack on Sinn Fein policing position

1 January, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP responding to an artcle by US Special envoy Mitchell Reiss in the Irish Echo newpaper last week criticising the Sinn Fein position on Policing said:

The United States has played a pivotal role in the Irish Peace Process. President Clinton and President Bush's evenhanded approach contributed to creating the climate where progress was possible. In his article last week Mitchell Reis acknowledges the contribution to the peace process of the IRA's historic decision to end its armed campaign and to complete the process ofputting its arms beyond use. These were 'top of the list' of positive and hopeful developments in 2005.

But then in an unhelpful and partisan manner he attacks Sinn Fein's position on policing and gives succour to Unionist politicians still determined to oppose the Good Friday Agreement. His soft focus on Unionist refusal to share power and his airbrushing of loyalist violence and its consequences for many in the north this year is in stark contrast to his attack on republicans. Apparently unionism and loyalism are not responsible for any of the difficulties in the peace process. They 'have a sense of grievance', are 'disenfranchised' and 'poorly educated'. This is at best a superficial analysis of unionism - at worst disingenuous and misleading.

In contrast his comments on Sinn Fein and the issue of policing carry accusations which are untrue and offensive. In addition Mr Reiss throws out unproven claims of lawlessness in nationalist areas. The fact is that the north of Ireland has the second lowest crime rate in Europe It is less than half of the average in Britain. There is no 'rampant crime' in nationalist or republican communities. On the contrary the nationalist and republican people are good, decent people who despite not having had a proper police service have remained law abiding. Republicans and Nationalists, will not be badgered or forced into accepting less than the new beginning to policing promised in theGood Friday Agreement. This Agreement addressed the issue of policing for a very good reason. The RUC was never a police service. It was a political paramilitary militia which engaged in the most disgraceful abuse of human rights which included torture and murder. Those who were at the heart of this malign force ˆ the Special Branch- are still active within the new policing service.

Witness the deliberate planned overthrow of a democratically elected government by these elements three years ago and their use of agents within Sinn Fein. Despite all of this Sinn Fein remain determined to achieve the reconstruction of the power sharing government and all Ireland institutions. We are committed to being part of a new policing dispensation. Last December we almost reached this point. We had succeeded in building on the progress made on this issue in recent years in negotiations with the British, particularly on the key issue of transfer of powers of policing and justice from London to Belfast. But it fell apart at the last moment because of the position of Ian Paisley's party, the DUP.

The historic decision taken by the IRA in recent months, the end of its armed campaign and the putting of arms beyond use have removed any excuse or pretext for further delay. In January the British and Irish Governments and Sinn Fein intend making a serious effort to resurrect the government and institutions. The British government has given commitments on policing including the transfer of power. I have made it clear that if the British honour their obligations, if the DUP agrees to share power and the model into which policing and justice will be transferred, then Sinn Fein will hold a special conference to debate this matter out fully to arrive at a democratically agreed position.

I believe the New Year is full of hope and that real and meaningful progress is possible. We need the continued help of Irish America to achieve all this. The peace process also needs the support of the United States Government. Mitchell Reiss‚ current position is not helpful. Making progress and resolving issues like policing are shared goals. We need to work together to achieve them. I hope also that President Bush's administration returns to the successful and even handed policies which helped to create the Peace Process in the first place." ENDS

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