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18 December 2003 Edition

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What links Cory and Barron? - British collusion

PRESSURE MOUNTS ON BLAIR

The British Prime Minister on Wednesday refused to honour his commitments in relation to the Cory and Barron reports.

A Sinn Féin delegation consisting of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Marylou McDonald and Dodie McGuinness met with Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in London. Blair was confronted about his government's refusal to publish the four sections of the report it commissioned from Judge Peter Cory into cases involving collusion and over its failure to co-operate with the Barron Inquiry into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

"We went in to seek assurances that the British Government would keep its commitments," said Gerry Adams. "These assurances were not forthcoming.

"We pressed them to publish the Cory report, asking them to publish it at the same time as Dublin is publishing the parts of the report it commissioned (expected to be released today), but Blair said the British would not be publishing at this time. This is a major disappointment, particularly for the families concerned.

"We were always of the view that the decision to commission the report was a long-fingering exercise by the British. It is to the judge's credit that he came back relatively quickly."

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Marylou McDonald reminded Tony Blair of his Government's promise to co-operate with the Barron Inquiry, a promise that was never delivered on. They pressed Blair to announce his government's decision to co-operate and give Barron what he requests. Blair indicated that he wasn't privy to the detail provided by the Sinn Féin team. Ó Caoláin responded that he expected Ahern had briefed Blair and that it was important the British PM acquaint himself with the detail of the report and its damning conclusions about the lack of British co-operation.

Blair made no commitments but said he would be writing to Ó Caoláin.

"There is a clear connection between these two issues," said Gerry Adams afterwards. "That is British collusion. We have to ask why the British will not publish Cory or co-operate with Barron. Could it be that the people involved in the administration of collusion are still within the British system? Mr Blair will have to tackle this issue."

Adams reported a more satisfactory discussion in relation to the Peace Process. The delegation went into the meeting seeking assurances that the process of implementation of the Agreement, which was put on hold on 21 October, would be recommenced and that the governments would deliver on their commitments.

Speaking beforehand, Adams expressed concern that the governments might be preparing to repeat the mistakes of the last five years. He said there was a small window of opportunity in which the DUP should be given the chance to engage properly but that continued suspension of the institutions was not acceptable.

Speaking after the meeting, Adams said there had been a general consensus that the process of the Review of the Good Friday Agreement should be short and focused. "Let's see what that means in terms of a specific timetable from the governments in the weeks ahead," he said.

Addressing republicans, Adams said: "Let's all have a good Christmas break. This has been a hard but worthwhile year for Sinn Féin activists. The party has grown and the process has been sustained because of republicans.

"But after Christmas, all these issues, such as justice, the equality agenda, rights and policing, will have to be addressed. We will be back campaigning hard again in the New Year."

The next issue of An Phoblacht will be published on Thursday 8 January 2004. We wish all our readers a safe and Merry Christmas and a New Year full of revolutionary spirit

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