Adams - New opportunities for progress
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP speaking in advance of a major speech at St. John's University in New York this evening said:
"2006 will be a vital year in the Peace Process. The political situation in Ireland has been transformed since the last St. Patrick's Day. Last year saw huge historic initiatives from the IRA. It formally ended its armed campaign in July, dealt definitively with the arms issue in September and removed itself from the stage.
"All of this has created huge opportunities which seven months later need to be built upon. That is my principle message to US politicians, media and especially Irish America. I will be asking supporters of the peace process in Irish America and political leaders on Capitol Hill to re-double their efforts to ensure that the opportunity which has been created is not thrown away.
"Irish America, in particular can take great satisfaction in knowing that it has made a significant contribution to the peace process and that friends of Sinn Féin can feel vindicated by recent developments.
"But the focus of those who want to see the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement has to be on the next steps in the peace process and what needs to be done to break the impasse.
"Sinn Féin believes that the approach of the two governments, in pandering to the intransigence of the DUP is contributing to this impasse. Last week I wrote to Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair setting out a clear strategy to move the process forward. I took this unusual course of action because I am increasingly concerned at their handling of the current talks. I also have to say that I am concerned at the partisan behaviour of the American Administration in recent months. Not only does this go against the principles of equality and inclusion that are at the heart of the peace process, it is being used by those opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.
"I get the sense that there is a shared frustration in Ireland and the US that the process is being allowed to dangerously drift. At a time when leadership and certainty is required the two governments have failed to act decisively.
"The attitude of the Irish government within the process has been disappointing It's stance in the recent Stormont talks in which it supported the DUP proposal to exclude Sinn Féin, its breach of commitments on northern representation, and its pre-occupation with next years general election and the growth of Sinn Féin, have all had a negative impact on the process. It needs to see beyond narrow party political concerns.
"It is my firm belief that we can make progress. Sinn Féin has put forward proposals for breaking the logjam in the process in the short term and we are seeking US support for them. We need to see progress before the summer and well in advance of the marching season. That means the British government lifting the suspension of the political institutions and both governments making it clear to the DUP that the Good Friday Agreement is the only show in town. The two governments need to set out a timetable for the restoration of the political institutions and delivery on policing, justice, equality and human rights.
"There is an opportunity to end the impasse in the political and peace process but it means the governments taking decisive action in the coming weeks." ENDS