Irish Republican News · April 26, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: IRA READY FOR HISTORIC MOVE - ADAMS
IRA READY FOR HISTORIC MOVE - ADAMS

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has confirmed that the IRA is prepared to make what he described as “an unprecedented and historical move”.

But he warned that the British and Irish governments must not tamper with the Good Friday Agreement.

“I would speculate you are unlikely to get anything from the IRA for less than the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

He said the governments must move ahead if the DUP are “only being tactical” in their discussions with the governments. But he said he did not see any evidence that the DUP had shifted its position.

“I am more concerned with the stance of both governments ... this notion that they have of putting forward proposals - which they did in the review - which actually tamper with the fundamentals of the Agreement - I think that is very, very dangerous.

“You have to get a deal within the context and template of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

However, some elements of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement will have to be “changed” if progress is to be made, the Irish Minister Prime Bertie Ahern said yesterday.

Mr Ahern said all parties should realise that the 1998 accord would have to be amended if the political deadlock in Northern Ireland was to be broken.

“In the Good Friday Agreement there is a review clause and we all agreed to that,” he said.

“It is not unreasonable for anybody to say that after six years we should have a review of the mechanisms to see if it could work better.”

The Taoiseach, speaking after a meeting with a Sinn Féin delegation led by Gerry Adams and his new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, acknowledged that little progress had been made since 1998.

His aim at this stage was to listen to all political parties involved and pinpoint which areas need to be changed in order to find the common ground.

The negotiations are focused on Ministerial powers, British demilitarisation, the IRA, and policing.

“I am endeavouring to explore between the DUP and Sinn Féin where the common threads are, where are the threads that the governments can agree with,” he said.

“It is of course regrettable they don’t talk to each other. It would be far easier for me and for them but that is not possible and because of that we have to follow this process.”

FUNDAMENTAL CONTRADICTION

Speaking afterwards, Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness hailed comments by the Taoiseach that Ian Paisley accepts the “fundamental principles” of the Good Friday Agreement. He said, if true, that this represented a “huge statement”.

“It’s something the people of Ireland, nationalists and unionists need to think very carefully about. If the DUP are up for a deal then we too are up for a deal but that deal has to be on the basis of the Good Friday Agreement.

“So maybe there is some kind of common ground there that we need to work towards. We certainly are prepared to do that but we have to be faithful to the Agreement,” he said.

But today, the DUP accused others of trying to distort their party’s position on the Agreement.

Recalling early contacts with the British Government after last year’s Assembly Election, the DUP Deputy Leader Peter Robinson said: “The fundamentals of the Belfast Agreement, as defined by the Secretary of State (Paul Murphy) in his letter, were the commitment to exclusively peaceful and democratic means; the guarantee that there will be no constitutional change without consent and the requirement for cross-community participation in devolved government.”

“At the meeting we held with him, he added the need for North South co-operation to this list.

“Anyone who has read DUP manifestos and policy papers will know that none of these principles would be inconsistent with what the DUP has been saying.”

© 2004 Irish Republican News