Irish Republican News · September 28, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: ADAMS CONCERN AT TALKS FAILURE
ADAMS CONCERN AT TALKS FAILURE

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has expressed concern about the handling of the political process since the failure of last week’s intensive talks to reach a deal.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, claimed at the end of the talks that they believed that they had achieved a breakthrough in their efforts to disarm the IRA and terminate its activity.

However, Ian Paisley’s DUP has sought deep changes to the troubled 1998 Good Friday Agreement to again give unionists an advantage in a devolved Belfast administration.

Sinn Féin has expressed frustration at the failure of a major IRA concession to secure a deal for the return of the Belfast Assembly.

Meanwhile, the nationalist SDLP has urged the governments to “call the DUP’s bluff” by recalling the Assembly.

“The governments should recall the Assembly and end suspension now. Then we can see who is for real and who is really causing the problems, said Mark Durkan, who was visiting the annual British Labour Party Conference in Brighton.

“What we need is not a change in the agreement but a change in the DUP’s attitude.

“The SDLP recognises that the DUP have a significant mandate. But the governments have to show to them that the agreement has a far bigger one. The governments have to put a stop to the DUP’s stand-and-deliver tactics on the agreement,” he said.

Durkan’s appeal was echoed by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, who declared that the formal review of the Good Friday Agreement was now at an end.

He said the “pandering to the DUP and its intransigence” needed to end and the political process had to move on.

Speaking at a press briefing in west Belfast, Mr Adams said the momentum created in last week’s negotiations at a picturesque moated castle in southern England had not been built upon.

He recalled that previously there had been talk from Downing Street about trains leaving stations and last chance saloons.

“It is over a week since we were in Leeds Castle,” he said. I think it must be clear to everyone that the review has run its course. The DUP have failed to win any of the pro-agreement parties over to its anti-agreement position. And it is time to move on.”

Asked what he meant by moving on, Mr Adams replied: “Those of us who are pro-agreement and the two governments need to make progress.

“A head of steam had been built up and there was the possibility of moving things forward, but the DUP said no. I don’t think this is good enough.

“We should move on until they are prepared to engage properly. Remember the DUP won’t talk to Sinn Féin. They talk about a new confident unionism, but how confident are they that they won’t even talk to republicans?”

Mr Adams claimed the British government had wrongly believed that the DUP would settle for cosmetic changes to the Good Friday Agreement as a face-saving measure.

“The British government need to face up to reality,” he said. “The buzz was about presenting the DUP with a fig-leaf. They have had all this time to sort this out and have not done it.”

“Why should any of us who are in the majority in this island, who want change, who want equality, who want to work with others, who recognise other peoples mandates... why should we have to wait?”

He suggested that on several issues whether it be equality, human rights, demilitarisation, and justice then the governments should move ahead and make it clear to the DUP that the Good Friday agreement was going to prevail.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin chief negotiator Martin McGuinness speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton said they were determined to unblock the political impasse that exists.

But Mr McGuinness said this cannot be done at the expense of the core principles of the Good Friday agreement.

“The power sharing arrangements so delicately constructed in the agreement are a unique arrangement designed to deal with the abnormal political entity that is the north of Ireland.

“We can obviously consider improvements to the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of the political institutions but the core principle of powersharing will not be diluted. There will be no return to unionist rule,” Mr McGuinness said.

PAISLEY IN DUBLIN TALKS

Meanwhile, it was confirmed today that Dr Paisley is to hold his first political talks with Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin later this week.

It was confirmed today that meeting would go ahead on Thursday, and that the DUP delegation would likely include deputy leader Peter Robinson.

Although Dr Paisley previously met Mr Ahern in his capacity as the Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, it is the first time the veteran leader of the DUP has attended political talks in the 26-County capital.

Sinn Féin today called on him to hold direct talks with republicans, something which he has always refused to do.

“The message that the DUP is sending out from this meeting is that they are engaging today with people they refused to talk to yesterday,” said party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin. “Sinn Féin are the largest nationalist party. If the DUP are to ever share power then they will have to share power with Sinn Féin.

“It is now time for the DUP to demonstrate to the nationalist community that they are capable of respecting electoral mandates and engaging constructively with political opponents. The time has now come to engage in face to face dialogue with Sinn Féin.”

© 2004 Irish Republican News