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Adams in Munster - Political will must be found to advance process

5 September, 2003

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams is in Munster holding a series of meetings with party activists and to attend an EU selection convention in limerick on Saturday.

This evening he will be speaking in Thurles, Co. Tipperary at the publication of a book by former political prisoner Paddy Hacket. The book 'Keep their names ever green' is the story of the second Tipperary Brigade of the IRA between 1920 and 1923.

Commenting on the current political situation Mr Adams said:

"Whatever the outcome of the internal battle within unionism the rest of us, the two governments and the pro-agreement parties, have to ensure that all shades of unionism clearly understand that the GFA is as good as it gets. Unionists must face that reality.

"Of course, those unionists who are fearful of change and who don't want to be part of building a new political dispensation -- a new an better future for the people they represent - can absent themselves from this process. But they cannot stop it. They can slow it down but they cannot stop the process of change.

"Irish republicans clearly have a responsibility to listen to unionists, to speak with them at every opportunity and to seek to persuade them of the benefits of working together. That is a huge challenge for us but it is one I believe we are up to.

"In the short term our priority has to be to have elections held as soon as possible and to see the political institutions restored. Elections are the only way to create a new context, a new dynamic in which progress can be made.

"I believe, and my recent discussions with the two governments support this view, that we can still make progress if the political will can be found and if political leaders are prepared to lead.

"We should, all of us take considerable pride in what we have collectively achieved in recent years.

"We have to keep going -- we have to keep pushing ahead. There remains so many matters still to be resolved -- the human rights and equality agenda, the policing issue, demilitarisation and much more.

"The GFA identified what was wrong and how it could be fixed. We have to stay focussed on achieving this.

"The British government in particular cannot run away from its responsibilities. The decision to cancel the elections has undermined the political process. A refusal to call elections soon will further subvert it. Mr Blair's remarks yesterday are evidence that he understands this. But he cannot forever wait on the UUP to catch up with the rest of us. There is a matter of political principle involved. He needs to face up to the democratic imperative sooner rather than later." ENDS

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