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19 September 2002 Edition

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Blair must re-engage

Adams warns against complacency

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, speaking following a meeting with Tony Blair in Downing Street on Wednesday, called on the British Prime Minister to return to the task of implementing the Good Friday Agreement. The Sinn Fein President made a similar call following a meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern on Monday.

"Over the last ten years there has been huge change in Irish society as a result of the peace process and in comparison to other parts of the world some of this change has been quite spectacular," said Adams. "Part of the reason why this happened was due to the role of the British government and the fact that it had a strategy which it applied to create the conditions for conflict resolution.

"It now appears that they are in danger of losing that strategic vision and replacing it with complacency, short term tactical management and indeed returning to the old game of bolstering unionists and pointing the finger of blame at republicans.

"The last two years should have been about building on the Good Friday Agreement. It should have been about delivering change. John Reid has failed to do this. But it is obvious to all of us that instead of this happening the last two years have seen the process falling into a trough.

"Over the last two years, unionists have increasingly behaved as if they believe they can stop the change promised in the Good Friday Agreement. This has included repeated threats to the political institutions and repeated attempts to stop progress on equality, human rights, criminal justice, policing, the all-Ireland agenda and a whole range of other crucial issues.

"We are all aware of the dangers which ensue when there is a political vacuum. This summer people in the Short Strand and North Belfast lived under siege from nightly attacks by loyalist gangs. And last weekend the UDA attempted mass murder in the city of Belfast. Now they have turned their guns on each other as they fight over drug money.

"If ever there was a time for the British government to refocus it is now. I am calling on Tony Blair to return to the task of implementing the Good Friday Agreement."


Governments must promote Agreement - Adams

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Government Buildings on Monday. Afterwards, Adams said there was an urgent need for the two governments to actively promote the Good Friday Agreement. He said that "republican confidence was being slowly corroded because of what is happening at interface areas and the failure of the British government to fulfil their obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

"At a time when there are so many crucial issues to be dealt with, including the Nice Treaty referendum and the threatened war in Iraq, it is important that we also keep our focus on defending and promoting the Good Friday Agreement and advancing the peace process," said Adams.

"On Saturday afternoon, we had the attempted sectarian murder of three Catholics in North Belfast and earlier in the week we had the attempted murder of a man on the Springfield Road in West Belfast. We also have the upcoming UUC meeting and the ongoing crisis within unionism which is threatening the political institutions. We are in danger of the process almost being reduced to what I referred to last week as the Save Dave Process."

Adams added: "This evening I spoke with the Taoiseach about the need for the two governments to actively promote the Good Friday Agreement. We also discussed the difficulties in the peace process, the need for the British to honour commitments on policing, the ongoing loyalist sectarian campaign and the issue of northern representation in the Oireachtas."


Reid monitor proposal panders to unionism

Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin has responded to reports that British Secretary of State John Reid is shortly to announce details of his proposals for an independent auditor to monitor ceasefires.

"All along, Sinn Féin has stated that these proposals are outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and would be a retrograde step for the peace process," said McLaughlin. "The decision of the British government to go ahead with them is clear evidence of them pandering to unionism.

"Are the British government seriously telling us that they believe that following the introduction of these proposals, David Trimble will step forward to champion the Good Friday Agreement or that the 'no' men of unionism are going to remove their obstacles to change?"

McLaughlin added that he believed the proposal would not only undermine the peace process but would also be used by those within the British system who are totally opposed to change and who want to bring the Good Friday Agreement down.

McLaughlin has also challenged the British Secretary of State John Reid to 'practice what he preaches'.He made his remarks after Reid claimed during the week that a cease-fire auditor was required because people had a right to detailed and accurate information.

"Dr Reid this morning defended people's right to receive accurate information as a basis for his defence of the ceasefire auditor proposal," said McLaughlin. "I would challenge Mr Reid to practice what he preaches.

"If he is concerned about the public's right to information, then let him publish the Stevens, Stalker and Samson reports. Let him publish the details of the killing of Pat Finucane. Let him publish the forensic histories of the weapons used in recent loyalist killings.

"Up to this point, when dealing with reports into the activities of the RUC or other Crown forces under his control, who are not on cessation, secrecy and silence have been the guiding principles."


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