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7 April 2005 Edition

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Moving the struggle forward

In a major address on Wednesday to map out what he believes are the necessary next steps in the Peace Process and the central, historic role republicans must play if that process is to succeed, Gerry Adams made a direct appeal to the Volunteers and leadership of the IRA.

He told them: "In the past I have defended the right of the IRA to engage in armed struggle. I did so because there was no alternative for those who would not bend the knee, or turn a blind eye to oppression, or for those who wanted a national republic.

"Now there is an alternative.

"I have clearly set out my view of what that alternative is," he said. "The way forward is by building political support for republican and democratic objectives across Ireland and by winning support for these goals internationally."

He appealed to the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann "to fully embrace and accept this alternative".

"Can you take courageous initiatives that will achieve your aims by purely political and democratic activity?" he asked.

"I know full well that such truly historic decisions can only be taken in the aftermath of intense internal consultation. I ask that you initiate this as quickly as possible."

He told the IRA that "now is the time for you to step into the Bearna Baoil again; not as volunteers risking life and limb but as activists in a national movement towards independence and unity.

"I am asking you to join me in seizing this moment, to intensify our efforts, to rebuild the peace process and decisively move our struggle forward."

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