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13 April 2006 Edition

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Assembly: Republican focus is on formation of Executive

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern speaking during a press conference in the Navan Centre, in Armagh

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern speaking during a press conference in the Navan Centre, in Armagh

Sinn Féin to attend reconvened Assembly

Sinn Féin is to attend the reconvened Six County Assembly in May. The announcement was made last Saturday, 8 April during a meeting of the party's Ard Chomhairle in Dublin. Party President Gerry Adams said that the focus in doing so will be the formation of a power sharing government on the basis set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said; "On Thursday, in response to the joint statement from the two governments, I said that Sinn Féin would judge their proposals against the benchmark of the Good Friday Agreement, and whether they would secure the restoration of the political institutions. I also welcomed the convening of the Assembly and the clear statement that its primary role is to elect a power sharing government.

"Today the Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle met, following detailed consultation with our Assembly team, and after careful consideration, we have decided to attend the reconvened Assembly on 15 May. Our focus in doing so will be the formation of a power sharing government on the basis set out in the Good Friday Agreement. This also has to be the focus of the Irish and British governments.

"The DUP have to decide if they are prepared to join the rest of us in a power sharing government. That is the inescapable question which they must face. If they refuse to do so the two governments must deliver on their commitment to jointly implement all other elements of the Good Friday Agreement. In the coming days Sinn Féin will seek clarity and detail on the accelerated all-Ireland co-operation and action that will replace the Assembly if the DUP is not prepared to share power."

The Sinn Féin decision follows the joint statement from the Taoiseach and British Prime Minister in Armagh on Thursday, 6 April.

Sinn Féin had expressed reservations about the approach that has been taken for some time now by the British and Irish governments and it is clear that but for Sinn Féin's robust defence of the Good Friday Agreement, there would have been significant concessions to anti-Agreemnt forces.

Sinn Féin has welcomed the reconvening of the Assembly and the clear statement that its primary role is to elect a power sharing government.

In their statement both governments have made clear to unionists, especially the DUP, that they must decide if they are prepared to join other parties in moving forward through a power sharing government. If they don't the two governments say that they are committed to moving ahead to implement all other elements of the Good Friday Agreement.

Many nationalists and republicans will be sceptical about such a commitment from the governments and it will be tested in the period ahead.

Sinn Féin is seeking assurances from both governments about new joint governmental arrangements and accelerated all-Ireland co-operation and action, that will replace the Assembly if the DUP is not prepared to share power.

However Gerry Adams has said: "Whatever the two governments do, there is no going back to the days of unionist domination because Sinn Féin will not allow it. I say that as a gentle reminder to the DUP that the only way they will be part of institutions is on the basis of equality and the Good Friday Agreement."

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