Irish Republican News · February 5, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Securing peace must be priority - Adams
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP made the following remarks at Parliament Buildings, Stormont on Thursday following the IRA’s statement on Wednesday night.


Last night's IRA statement is obviously a direct consequence of the confrontational and damaging approach of the two governments. It is evidence of a deepening crisis and Sinn Féin regrets this.

Sinn Féin isn’t involved in this process for the good of our health or because we are some kind of conduit between the governments and the IRA. We are in this process and we are committed to it. We have the right to be involved because we are the largest pro-Agreement party in the north and the third largest party on this island. 342,000 people from every corner of Ireland vote for us - that’s nearly 300,000 more people than voted for the PDs in the last General Election - the PDs who are now driving the Irish government’s policy on the peace process.

Sinn Féin is well aware of our responsibilities and we have never shied away from these - but to listen to the governments in recent days you would think that they are observers from another planet - that they have no active role to play, that they have no responsibilities.

Bertie Ahern is Taoiseach. He has a huge responsibility in all of this, not least because he is leader of Fianna Fail. But the tragedy is that for the first time we have an Irish government publicly acquiescing to a DUP position.

The mantra from Dublin is that: “SF won’t come within an asses roar of power, north or south, until the IRA is off the pitch.” This illustrates the flaw in the Irish government’s approach. Not everything is about getting into power. Securing the peace process should be the priority and party political politics have to come second.

“The two governments say that the only obstacle now to a lasting and durable settlement is the IRA. This is patent nonsense. Are they seriously telling us that Ian Paisley has had a road to Damascus conversion - that he is now suddenly embracing equality and powersharing? The DUP walked away from a deal in December - a deal of huge significant - because they oppose powersharing and oppose the Good Friday Agreement. There is no evidence that this has changed.

The Sinn Féin leadership stands over and is proud of the contribution we have made in the peace process and in transforming the political situation, not just in the north, but throughout the island of Ireland. That work is unfinished. It is the responsibility of all political parties and others. But the approach of the two governments has effectively scuttled the unprecedented IRA initiatives which they publicly outlined in December.

The governments have opted to attack the commitment, integrity and motivation of Sinn Féin. This is fair enough in the cut and thrust of party politics but has no place in a peace process. My remarks about the Irish government are made more in sadness than anger.

If an Irish government will not stand up to a British government in defence of the rights of Irish citizens - then who will? The role of the British government and its agencies in Ireland has been shameful. When Mr. Blair came into government he signalled a willingness to find a way out of this. He needs to deliver on his historic and current obligations.

We have acknowledged Tony Blair’s positive contribution, as we do the Taoiseach’s, but we have told them both that confrontation is not the way forward. Otherwise the peace process could be as transient as his time in Downing Street. The challenge now for all of us in positions of political leadership is to rescue the situation. That is the focus of the Sinn Féin leadership.

But we cannot do this on our own. The two governments have a critically important contribution to make. Either they can rise to the hard and difficult challenge of peace making or they can go on making a bad situation worse. The priority and focus of Sinn Féin in the time ahead is threefold:

  • To defend the peace process

  • To pursue the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

  • To uphold the integrity of Sinn Féin and the rights of our electorate, alongside the rights of all other citizens.

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