Republican News · Thursday 18 November1999

[An Phoblacht]

Eyes on the Prize

Towards a new Ireland

Commenting on the events of recent days, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has made the following comments:

``This week has seen some very significant developments in the search for a lasting peace settlement.

``I want to thank and commend Senator George Mitchell for the skill and commitment which he brought to this process.

``This week's developments were created by dint of very hard work and tough decisions by all the leaderships involved. I believe that we have now managed to create the potential to consolidate the peace process and to advance the task of implementing the Good Friday Agreement.

``This will present huge challenges for all of us. It will present huge challenges for the two governments. I do not underestimate the difficulties which have to be overcome in the time ahead, especially for the Ulster Unionist Party and its leadership.

``In a statement earlier today, I welcomed this afternoon's IRA statement and I urged the other political parties and the two governments to respond positively to this latest IRA initiative. No one should underestimate the effort which this initiative involved.

``In my view, the success of the next phase of this process is totally dependent on all progressive and forward-looking elements of our people asserting and exerting ourselves in the difficult tasks which leadership involves.

I am confident that these difficulties can be overcome if the momentum created this week is seized upon and utilised for the common good.

``I want to address the bulk of my remarks directly to the British

government Success will also depend on sure-footed and calm management of the situation. Everyone in leadership needs to be mindful that peace-making is more important. It is different from and it is more difficult than conventional politics or what usually passes for politics.

``It means trying to put yourself in the shoes of your opponents. It means resisting the temptation to go for short-term advantage. It involves resisting the urge to misrepresent, to hype or to exaggerate. In other words, as much as anything else, the success of this next phase may depend on everyone taking a measured and accurate approach in the period ahead.

``At every slow, painful point in the search for peace republicans have taken initiatives which have created a momentum to take the process forward. Our commitment has been matched by others, including the Taoiseach, whose efforts I have often acknowledged and commended.

``But for every movement forward there has also been a series of failed efforts. It is the responsibility of the two governments and all our political leaderships to ensure that this does not happen again.

``I want to commend the Sinn Féin negotiating team, the Ard Chomhairle of our party, our Assembly members and the broad leadership and the membership of our party and our supporters. No one out there within the British Government or unionist constituency should underestimate the limits to which Sinn Féin has stretched itself and our constituency in our endeavours to make this review work.

``The reason that Sinn Féin has stretched ourselves and our constituency is because we have always had our eyes fixed firmly on the prize. We want a New Ireland in which all the people of this island will be cherished equally and in which everyone will be politically, socially and economically empowered. We want a just and lasting peace. So do the vast majority of people in these islands, especially the people of Ireland who voted for the Good Friday Agreement.

``Let us ensure that none of us fails the people.''

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