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7 October 2004 Edition

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Dublin urged to defend Agreement

The fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement must stand and not be reinterpreted to suit unionism. That was the message Sinn Féin took to the Dublin Government this week. A delegation led by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and the party's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, met Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, last Monday at the Taoiseach's constituency office in Dublin.

At the meeting, Sinn Féin voiced a list of concerns at some of the positions put forward by the two governments following the recent Leeds Castle talks.

"I repeated to the Irish Government deep concerns at the positions being put to us by the two governments which in our view breach the fundamentals," said Adams.

Earlier, the Sinn Féin leader had urged the Taoiseach to defend the Good Friday Agreement. "While British strategy has generally been constructed on unionist terms, the Irish government is constitutionally obliged to promote other objectives and to actually defend the agreement," Adams had said.

"There is general acceptance that the IRA is prepared to make an unprecedented and historical contribution to the Peace Process in the context of a comprehensive agreement between the two governments and the political parties," said Adams.

"At the end of the Leeds Castle talks, both governments declared that there was progress towards such an agreement. I saw no sign of that as far as the DUP was concerned.

"Since then, there has been no evidence to suggest that the DUP has changed its position. It continues to put unrealistic demands aimed at changing the power sharing core of the assembly and other fundamentals of the agreement," said Adams.

"I do believe that a deal between Sinn Féin, the DUP, the two governments and the other parties is inevitable. But we can only do so on terms that are based on equality. I have yet to discover the DUP's contribution to achieving this deal.

"In fact, it appears that they are working on a longer timescale than everyone else. If we are to achieve a restoration of stable and sustainable political institutions, then I believe there is no better time than now to do that business. But any deal cannot be at the expense of the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement."

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