22 January 1998 Edition
IRA blames Blair for crisis
The IRA has rejected the Propositions on Heads of Agreement as a basis for reaching a peace settlement. In a statement on Wednesday night they described it as a ``pro-Unionist document'' which has ``created a crisis in the peace process''. They lay blame for the crisis firmly with Tony Blair's Labour Government who is ``yet another British Prime Minister [who] has succumbed to the Orange Card''.
The full text of the IRA statement is:
The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann do not regard the `Propositions on Heads of Agreement' document as a basis for a lasting peace settlement. It is a pro-Unionist document and has created a crisis in the peace process.
We have pointed out repeatedly in the past that meaningful negotiations are crucial to the resolution of the conflict. We have affirmed our willingness to facilitate such negotiations. We have matched this commitment with deeds in announcing and maintaining a cessation of military operations since 20 July last year.
The British Government have, as yet, refused to face up to their responsibilities in this regard. They have continued with the remilitarisation policy of their predecessors in government. They have stalled on the implementation of any serious or meaningful confidence-building measures.
Most significantly of all, in attempting to impose the `Heads of Agreement' document on the talks process yet another British Prime Minister has succumbed to the Orange Card. This was against a background of the Unionist leadership refusing to meaningfully engage in the talks process and the continuing assassinations by loyalist death squads. Instead of facing up to this pressure the British government has again yielded to it.
The responsibility for undoing the damage done to the prospects for a just and lasting peace settlement rests squarely with the British government.
Sinn Fein reiterate 'No Internal Settlement'
By Peadar Whelan
"ANYONE who thinks an internal settlement is going to work or some assembly with a few nationalist knobs stuck on to it is going to work is not living in the real world".
That was the clear message delivered by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams to British Prime Tony Blair at a meeting in Downing Street last Monday 19 January.
Adams, leading a delegation of senior party officials, Pat Doherty, Lucilita Breathnach and Martin McGuinness, met the British prime minister to discuss the proposed Heads of Agreement document released by the Irish and British governments last week.
The meeting had been hastily arranged during a phone call between Adams and Blair after the Sinn Fein leader learned the contents of the governments' document.
The Heads of Agreement document, which Adams had previously described as a mistake, was agreed by the two governments and leaked by the British Daily Telegraph. Sinn Fein was not consulted by the British or Irish governments on the content of the document.
Yet the image of David Trimble on television boasting that he had influenced the document angered nationalists and lent credence to the view that once again the British government had folded in the face of unionist and loyalist political and military pressure.
After the meeting with Blair Adams called on the British government, "to face up to its historic responsibilities" and ensure that "the unionists engage constructively in talks."
"It is Sinn Fein's consistent view that an agenda for talks, or propositions for Heads of Agreement or a framework for a settlement, must be inclusive and comprehensive. It needs to be a bridge to the future, not a U-turn to the past," Adams said.
Meanwhile, in a submission presented to the talks at Stormont, Sinn Fein stressed that the "situation can be rectified if realities are accepted and a level playing field provided in the negotiations."