Efforts continue to avert disaster
Sinn Féin has been working flat-out this week in an effort to save the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process, which have been pushed to the brink of collapse by unionist threats.
Using the pretext that the IRA has not surrendered weapons, the Ulster Unionist Party is attempting to manoeuvre the British government into suspending the political process which has flowed from the Good Friday Agreement, with the threat that if this does not happen, unionists will walk away and collapse the entire process.
The de Chastelain report, which was the subject of talks between Peter Mandelson and Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen on Tuesday, has not yet been been made public as An Phoblacht goes to press.
A Sinn Féin delegation led by Party President Gerry Adams MP and including Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP, Caoimhghín O Caoláin TD, Councillor Joe Reilly and Assembly member Mary Nelis met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at government buildings in Dublin on Wednesday, 2 February.
Emerging from the talks, Gerry Adams said Sinn Féin had been anxious to assure that the insitutions established under the Good Friday Agreement would not be collapsed or suspended. The Taoiseach and Sinn Féin were in agreement that such a development would be a ``disaster''. Gerry Adams said that there would be further discussions with Ahern on Thursday morning, 3 February.
Adams declared that Sinn Féin was doing everything in its power to avert a calamity but that its task was being made increasingly difficult by the actions and attitudes of unionist leaders. Decommissioning, he said, was a collective responsibility and he was wedded to the objective of taking the gun out of Irish politics. He emphasised: ``What can save this process is politics'' and stressed his belief that the current crisis can be sorted out.
On Tuesday, Adams welcomed as ``significant'' a statement from the IRA which said that the organisation posed no threat to the peace process and that it is committed to the search for a permanent peace. The Sinn Féin President said: ``These reports are further evidence of the IRA's ongoing positive contribution to the peace process. It is clear that the IRA has engaged positively with the IICD.''