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December 07, 2004

News 12/07/04 - Adams' Statement @ News Conference

Sinn Féin News for 7 December, 2004

Gerry Adams - unprecedented opportunity to move

Speaking this evening at a Press Confernence in
Belfast where he was joined by party negotiators
Martin McGuinness MP, Gerry Kelly MLA, Caitriona
Ruane MLA, Cllr. Joe Reilly, Michelle Gildernew
MP and Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, Sinn Féin
President Gerry Adams said:

"On Wednesday, 17th November, Sinn Fein received
a proposed outline for comprehensive agreement
from the two governments. This included draft
statements dealing with issues which are the
responsibility of the governments, the DUP, Sinn
Fein, the IICD and the IRA. The bulk of these
dealt with outstanding aspects of the Good Friday
Agreement as well as the DUP position on IRA
arms. I will deal with that matter in a minute.

I believe that Sinn Fein can say yes to the
political package, as now presented.

I have conveyed this in writing to the Taoiseach
and the British Prime Minister.

I am satisfied that we have defended the
fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement,
including its power-sharing, all-Ireland and
equality provisions, that we have resolved
issues of concern and succeeded in strengthening
key provisions.

The Good Friday Agreement requirement that
parties commit to power sharing has been
protected in the new arrangements for the election
of the First and Deputy First Ministers as has
the joint and equal nature of the positions of
the First and Deputy First Ministers.

In addition to successfully defending the Good
Friday Agreement, we have made significant
progress across a range of other important issues.

There has been a singular focus, particularly by
the DUP, on silent IRA arms. Resolving this
issue of arms is a matter for the IICD and the
armed groups. Sinn Féin has used whatever
influence we have to see guns taken out of Irish
politics. Martin McGuinness and I have been to the
IRA. I am not prepared to go into the detail of
these discussions. That organisation will take
its own council and make its position clear in its
own time.

I do expect that, in the context of a
comprehensive agreement, it will deal with
issues that are its responsibility.

I also assume that the first people to be
informed of this will be its own membership. Im
not going to speculate on the detail of the IRA

However, I can tell you that I do not believe
that the IRA will allow itself to be humiliated.

If the IRA does take initiatives in support of a
comprehensive agreement this will be hugely
painful for Irish republicans and nationalists.
None of us is in any doubt about that. So I am
appealing to republicans to be thoughtful and
measured in responding to any future developments
as they have been through decades of struggle. I
am appealing directly to all those who support
Irish Unity and independence to remain united and
to support the efforts of Sinn Féin in these
testing times.

I recognise that some unionists do have genuine
concerns about verification of arms being put
beyond use, but Ian Paisley has to recognise also
that the IRA will not submit to a process of
humiliation. I do not expect Ian Paisley, or the
DUP or the unionist paramilitaries to submit to
such a process of humiliation.

In my view the two governments know the
significance of what is available from
republicans. This is not a time for them to pander
to unrealisable DUP demands.

There is now, in the view of the Sinn Féin
leadership, the opportunity to deal with genuine
concerns about the IRA to the satisfaction of all
reasonable people.

In contrast, the public position of the DUP
leadership on the issue of power sharing with
Sinn Féin, the largest nationalist party, up to
this point, remains a huge difficulty. The DUP
leader, Ian Paisley, refuses to meet with us, or
to accept our democratic mandate or to share
government power with us. This is a difficulty
which only he can resolve.

For republicans and nationalists the prospect of
sharing power with the DUP is not particularly
attractive. But Sinn Féin is committed to that
because we recognise the DUPs electoral
mandate. Both the DUP and Sinn Féin have much to
do to make this process a success. But the prize
of a just and lasting peace demands that of all
responsible political leaders.

There is also a huge responsibility on the
Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister, who
currently has jurisdiction over this part of our
island, to move forward on the delivery of the
modest rights and entitlements set out, almost 7
years ago, in the Good Friday Agreement.

We now have an unprecedented opportunity to move
forward on the basis of partnership, equality
and justice. I urge the DUP to join us in this
historic endeavour." ENDS

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