13 January 2005 Edition
Sinn Féin will resist discrimination by governments
Gerry Adams has given notice to Sinn Féin that the party must prepare to resist any campaign of discrimination by the two governments against its electorate. Speaking to An Phoblacht, the Sinn Féin President said:
"The process was in considerable difficulties following the DUP rejection of the comprehensive agreement in December. At that time, there was an unprecedented opportunity to resolve all of the outstanding issues and see the Good Friday Agreement implemented. This foundered on an unachievable demand from Ian Paisley, supported by the two governments. Despite this, Sinn Féin continued to search for a way forward with the governments.
"Then the Northern Bank robbery was seized upon, by opponents of the process on the one hand and by opponents of Sinn Féin on the other, to prevent any further progress.
"The British Government now appears to be considering a return to the failed policy of discrimination against Sinn Féin, and the Irish Government, for its own reasons, appears to be in support of this.
"Sinn Féin rejects any attack on our democratic and electoral mandate.
"I have spoken to senior officials in both governments and made this very clear to them.
"Despite all of our reservations and concerns as republicans, Sinn Féin has been prepared to work with the British Government in the common interest of building a lasting peace. That remains our focus and intention. However, we will not acquiesce to the undermining of the rights and entitlements of our electorate.
"We are also seriously concerned about the Taoiseach's decision to attack Sinn Féin. His allegation that our leadership was aware in advance of the Northern Bank robbery creates difficulties in the working relationship between the Irish Government and Sinn Féin.
"I reject these accusations totally and I am disappointed that the Taoiseach didn't raise any concerns he might have with me directly.
"It is important that we all avoid knee-jerk reactions. The Sinn Féin leadership is currently assessing all of this, the implications of any attack on our mandate and our future role in the process.
"Unless wiser counsel prevails, short-sighted decisions by the governments could have profound implications."
Adams said that in this context, Sinn Féin is seeking meetings with the British and Irish governments next week.