Sinn Féin in intense discussions
BY MICHAEL PIERSE
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, speaking as the guest of honour at a Civic Reception in Castlebar, County Mayo, confirmed on Monday that ``Sinn Féin is engaged in intense discussions with the British and Irish governments''.
The aim of Sinn Féin in these discussions, he stated, ``is to get the British Government to face up to its responsibilities''.
``During his visit here last week, President Clinton outlined a way to get the process back on the rails. Essentially, this was the May deal agreed at HIllsborough seven months ago,'' said Adams.
``The problems facing Sinn Féin and others trying to rescue the process, include the marked lack of trust among republicans and nationalists of the British government. This goes beyond the normal historic and political caution and arises from the failure, or refusal, of the British government to stand by the Good Friday Agreement.''
Clinton had outlined, during his speech at the Odyssey in Belfast, the moves that were necessary from the British government to secure nationalist and republican confidence - in particular in relation to the policing issue. ``The Patten Report must be implemented and on that basis, leaders from every part of the community must commit to make the new police service work,'' he said.
Adams welcomed the US President's comments, but cautioned that ``none of the efforts to end this present crisis will work unless Mr. Blair is able to deal with these difficulties.
``For example, current efforts to get the demilitarisation process started appear to be opposed by the British military establishment. And the policing issue is still bogged down in the mire created over the summer by the chicanery which marked the British government's handling of this issue.''
``Nonetheless, Sinn Féin is doing its best to find a way out of this impasse. In my view this will be very difficult at this time, not only for these reasons but because the UUP stands poised for yet another UUC meeting in the New Year. Undoubtedly, this will be convened on the basis of the wrecker's charter proposed by Mr. Trimble at the last UUC meeting.''
Meanwhile, 26-County Minister for Justice, John O'Donoghue, seemed to be supporting the `wrecker's charter' when he claimed on RTÉ that the five republican prisoners still held in Castlerea would not qualify for early release. After the furore caused by the Garda Representative Association over republican prisoners being granted compassionate leave, O'Donoghue had taken the opportunity to rehash the old lie that Sinn Féin were told that the prisoners would not qualify for early release, during the Good Friday negotiations.
``It is absolutely untrue to say that Sinn Féin was told during the Good Friday negotiations that the Castlerea prisoners would be excluded from the Good Friday Agreement prisoner early-release scheme. These men are covered under the Good Friday Agreement and should be released now,'' Adams said.