'Do not underestimate the difficulties' - Adams

The following is the full text of yesterday’s statement by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, in which he initiated a process to bring about a critical change in Sinn Féin’s policy on policing in the North of Ireland.

Mr. Adams said:

Mr. Adams said:

“Eight years ago at the time of the Good Friday Agreement we put the demand for a new beginning to policing at the top of the political agenda. Since that time progress has been made in a series of negotiations with the British government. In recent days and weeks the Sinn Féin leadership stepped up our contact with the British government on this issue, including over Christmas. Considerable progress has been made during these discussions.

“I have now called a meeting of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle. This will take place in Dublin tomorrow. I will give a full report on the negotiations.

“I will be proposing that the Ard Chomhairle convene a special Ard Fheis on the policing issue and I will put a motion to that effect.

“If the Ard Chomhairle agrees to that motion and others including the two governments and the DUP leadership respond positively, the Ard Fheis will go ahead in January.

“In the run up to this Ard Fheis there will be an intensive period of discussion within the party which will be led by party Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald.

“In addition Sinn Féin will engage in a series of meetings with the wider republican and nationalist community across the island, including the families of our patriot dead and victims of state murder and collusion.

“Given the history of repressive and sectarian policing in the Six Counties, I don’t want to underestimate the difficulties that this issue presents for many nationalists and republicans.

“However, the achievement of a new beginning to policing, as promised in the Good Friday Agreement would be an enormous accomplishment. And I believe that we have now reached the point of taking the next necessary step.

“I am certain that an initiative of this kind is in the interests of all our people.

“It is the right thing to do. If it succeeds it will advance the struggle for equality and the search for a just and lasting peace on the island of Ireland.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News