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18 November 2004 Edition

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Agreement is the bottom line

Sinn Féin Assembly Group leader Conor Murphy said on Monday that any proposals coming from the two governments aimed at breaking the current impasse in the process have to be grounded in the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement.

"The reason we have not achieved a comprehensive deal is the DUP's continued opposition to the fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement," he said. "In particular, they have targeted its all-Ireland and the power sharing core.

"If there is going to be a deal, then that deal can only be based on the framework provided by the Good Friday Agreement. There can be no other way.

"Therefore, any proposals which the two governments bring forward to try and end the current impasse must be grounded solidly in the fundamentals of the Agreement.

"If the DUP continue to stall and continue to oppose the will of the overwhelming majority of people of the island then it is important that the two governments advance speedily the process of change."

Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA, speaking ahead a discussion on Wednesday with support groups in London, was critical of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's warning this week that unless a deal is secured by 26 November that progress could be delayed until 2006.

"Whilst I share Mr Ahern's frustration, I do not think that he should be sending signals to the DUP that if they refuse to join a power-sharing Executive that everything could be put on hold for another two years," said McLaughlin. "The DUP are an anti-Agreement party, therefore stagnation in the political process is an objective of that party.

"Mr Ahern has also said that failure to make a breakthrough in the next two weeks would be an "enormous tragedy". Again I agree with the Taoiseach but I believe that the 'enormous tragedy' would be the two governments abdicating their responsibility to drive this process forward in the event of the DUP refusing to accept that progress can only be made within the parameters of the Good Friday Agreement."

Adams responds to media speculation

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP on Tuesday evening played down media reports regarding the involvement of churchmen in any future acts by the IRA of putting arms beyond use.

"Every negotiation, particularly as it comes to a crucial point, is rife with rumour and speculation," he said. "This one is no different, though the reporting of speculation as fact is irresponsible journalism.

"None of the issues involved in the current effort to find a breakthrough have been agreed or closed on."

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