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26 October 2000 Edition

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Programme for Government is no radical programme for change - Adams

Describing the Draft Programme for Government, published on Tuesday 24 October, as ``an important milestone in the peace process and the process of conflict resolution'', Sinn Féin has called on both the British and Dublin governments to, ``target resources and investment to those areas and people who carry the greatest burden of disadvantage''.

Party president Gerry Adams stressed: ``The Programme for Government is clearly not a republican document. Nor is it a radical programme for change, but it does point the way to a better future. It is not a static document. Like the Good Friday Agreement itself, it is a transitional document.''

Adams went on to list a number of points concerning the Programme for Government, including a call for, ``open constructive debate on all matters, including the various financial commitments from the EU''.

He also called for ``change in the manner in which the block grant from Westminster is determined'' and for the Assembly ``to be responsible for gathering taxes as well as determining how they are spent. Economic sovereignty must be a key goal for the future''.

Levelling criticism at the British government over its military budget, Adams said it should spend the millions saved by the British Exchequer on its war budget as part of a peace dividend.

``The development of an agreed Programme for Government and Budget by the Executive represents an important milestone in the peace process,'' added the Sinn Féin President. ``No one should underestimate the significance of this and the promise it holds out for all those who want this process to work.''

Meanwhile, speaking to An Phoblacht, Martin McGuinness outlined the view that Sinn Féin ``as a republican party still maintains that the only way forward is for Ireland to attain economic and political sovereignty from Britain''.

Echoing Adams view that the Programme wasn't radical enough, McGuinness pointed out that ``the limitations on the budget and in the Programme were imposed by the British government.

``The British Exchequer does not provide the resources we need to tackle the inequality that exists in the North, an inequality that is the result of years of discrimination in employment and in every other aspect of our lives, from the cultural discrimination we face through to the lack of a fair and equitable justice system. Partition has affected everyone on this island and it will only be when we resolve the issue of British government interference in our country that we can effectively tackle all the issues of inequality.''
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