Governments' Package Must Be
in Line with Agreement - Adams
Originally published between July 16th and 18th, 2001
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has said that the proposals of the British and Irish governments, to be presented to the North's political parties by next weekend, must be in line with the Good Friday Agreement if they are to succeed.
Speaking this [Thursday] morning at a press conference in Belfast, Mr Adams said the positions outlined by the two governments early last week in round-table talks in England "fell far short" of the Good Friday Agreement. He said the package they committed to put forward at the end of the recent talks "must return to the Agreement if it is to succeed. This is the benchmark against which Sinn Féin will judge the two governments proposals."
British Prime minister Tony Blair has pledged that the so-called "take it or leave it" package, being prepared by the British and Irish governments following a week of deadlocked negotiations, will be "fair and reasonable."
The unionist focus is on the issue of decommissioning IRA weapons, which, under the terms of the Agreement, all parties are committed to promoting as part of a broad disarming.
But Mr Adams has pointed to the many key elements of the Agreement which have still yet been implemented, some 40 months after it was signed. The new political institutions have been functioning as agreed, without a unionist threat, for only five months; a new beginning to policing has not been delivered; the British government has still no strategy for demilitarisation; the Equality Commission has been reduced to little more than an advice unit; the Human Rights Commission has been denied the powers and resources to fulfil its remit; the right to freedom from sectarian harassment is not being upheld; there have been none of the promised judicial reforms or a Bill of Rights.
Mr Adams also called for the arms issue to be left in the hands of the IICD arms body, as set out under the Good Friday Agreement.
"It is Sinn Fein's view that the arms issue can and must be resolved. This is not being aided, as is now self-evident, by those who misrepresent the terms of the Agreement on this issue and who attempt, accordingly, to mislead their own constituencies and popular opinion.
"There is a singular fixation on IRA guns which are silent. When the RUC is using lethal force. When the UDA and other loyalists have been killing and attempting to kill.
"The only armed threat to the Agreement is coming from these elements. I appeal to them to silence their weapons. The immediate requirement is that these guns are silenced.
He called on nationalists "despite these serious attacks and provocations" to be vigilant and to remain calm.
"Sinn Féin wants to see progress. We want to see the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. The onus is on the two governments is to ensure that their package delivers the Agreement in the terms agreed."
At Westminster yesterday during prime minister's question time, Mr Blair insisted that London and Dublin were in complete agreement on the package.
Answering a call from SDLP leader John Hume for the full implementation of the agreement, Mr Blair said: "I believe there is a chance of resolving this and implementing the Good Friday agreement in full, which is what everyone wishes to see.
"The two governments are in agreement as to the right package that covers all the outstanding issues."
BEATING ABOUT THE BUSH
In another development yesterday, Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly welcomed remarks by United States president George W Bush, in which he backed the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, while making specific reference only to the section dealing with arms.
In a newspaper interview before travelling to Britain, President Bush said the situation in the North of Ireland was coming to a critical stage. He said: "We strongly support the governments of Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern in their attempt to enact the Good Friday agreement, and one of the crucial points is decommissioning.
"My government stands side by side with those two governments and those two leaders in urging all sides to decommission, to disarm."
The US President indicated that he stood ready to help in the peace process.
Some chose to interpret the comments as a partisan attack on Sinn Féin's position. UUP leader David Trimble said it showed that "Sinn Féin and the handful of supporters they have are now completely isolated on this issue," he said.
But Gerry Kelly said he shared the position of President Bush calling for the implementation of the Agreement, adding that the issue of arms was "an essential part" of that.
Mr Kelly said: "The role played by President Clinton's administration in supporting the peace process and the Good Friday agreement is well documented.
"I welcome President Bush's statement that his administration continues to support the Good Friday agreement and stands ready to help in whatever way he can.
"There has been much media spin this morning surrounding the president's remarks on the arms issue. In fact President Bush shares the Sinn Féin position on this matter. The issue of arms must be resolved. Both governments and the parties agreed terms in the Good Friday agreement on our collective role in this."
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Editor's note: Of course George W. Bush would want to decommission the forces of their arms. That's the intent of those who wish to prevent decent people the right to keep and bear arms in order that they protect themselves from governments which are less than forthcoming about their intended aims.