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30 September 2004 Edition

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Adams welcomes DUP's Dublin meeting

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has welcomed DUP leader Ian Paisley's meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin today.

"The meeting in Dublin is symbolically important," said Adams. "It is also an opportunity for the Taoiseach to point out to the DUP leadership that the process requires them to acknowledge the rights of others. In particular, the DUP leadership has to face up to the challenge of entering face to face discussions with Sinn Féin and come to terms with the centrality of power sharing, equality and stable political institutions to any process."

Senior Sinn Féin negotiators Mitchel McLaughlin and Martin Ferris on Wednesday travelled to the United States for an extensive series of engagements aimed at securing continuing support for the Agreement in the United States.

They will meet with Congressional Representatives and a wide cross section of Irish American opinion.

McLaughlin will today attend an address by US Special envoy Mitchell Reiss at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy in New York.

Ferris will hold meetings with the friends of Ireland Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee of Irish Affairs hosted by Representative Jim Walsh in Washington DC, before travelling on to Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and New York City.

Speaking prior to their departure, McLaughlin said: "It is very clear that the Good Friday Agreement and the fundamental principles which underpin it are under attack from the DUP.

"Sinn Féin will conduct a series of important engagements across the United States over the next number of days as we seek to ensure continuing US support for the Good Friday Agreement in the face of this attack. This trip to the USA is about defending the Good Friday Agreement. "

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness on Tuesday evening, commenting on a statement released by British Secretary of State Paul Murphy that the British intend to press ahead with legislative changes to the Good Friday Agreement, warned that this is not up to the British Government alone. "The Irish Government and the political parties have ownership of the Agreement also," he said.

"The British Government has not yet shared its proposals with Sinn Féin.

"Sinn Féin will not support changes which will alter the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement. We will oppose any attempt to diminish the Agreement. We look to the Irish government to do the same."

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