[Sinn Fein]

3rd February 2000

Adams seeks meeting with Trimble - Peace Process can be saved

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP, speaking at lunchtime today, congratulated Pauline Davey-Kennedy on her successful election to Antrim Borough Council. Mr Adams praised the election team who succeeded in doubling the party's vote and taking a seat which it had been predicted would go to the SDLP. Mr Adams said:

``Sinn Fein is engaged in an exhaustive and intensive round of discussions with the two governments, the de Chastelain Commission and others. I believe that the crisis can be resolved if the political will is there and I asked my office to try and put together a meeting with Mr Trimble in an effort to find a satisfactory resolution.

``Sinn Fein is working tirelessly to save the process. We are in intensive discussions with all sides to avert disaster. It is my firm view that the issue of arms can be satisfactorily resolved. But walking away from the institutions and collapsing the process is not the way to prove that politics works nor persuade armed groups. The issue of arms will only be resolved when everyone plays their part in a constuctive and positive way. On Tuesday, the IRA, in a genuine effort to reassure unionists, said it was committed to the peace process and that there was no threat to the peace process. Its guns are silent.

``The dogged insistence of the UUP to keep to a deadline it set - when it has broken so many previous deadlines during this process - is raising concern among many that this unionist-induced crisis is not about decommissioning at all but is about unionism seeking a different agreement. It is clear that some certainly believe that they can bring down the Agreement and renegotiate another one more acceptable to unionists. Will the British government be faced down again by unionism? Will the unionist veto triumph once more? Will Peter Mandleson facilitate them in this?

``One thing is certain: the process does not have to collapse. It can be saved. There is no reason why the de Chastelain report, essentially a progress report, cannot be taken up positively by the British government and the UUP. If the unionists spook the British government into suspending and collapsing the institutions, and suspending means collapsing, then it will be difficult to put things back together again, and decommissioning - which the unionists make such a great fuss about - is unlikely ever to be achieved.''ENDS

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