[Sinn Fein]

5 May 2000

New opportunity for peace - Gerry Adams

Speaking on Friday evening following discussions at Hillsborough, County Down, with An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said:

``Sinn Fein welcomes the publication of the joint statement and the joint letter from Mr Ahern and Mr Blair. We commend the two governments for their efforts.

``I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues who have worked so diligently in recent weeks to secure this outcome.

``This is a decisive moment. The two governments have agreed to re-establish the institutions and have set out the mechanisms and steps necessary for achieving the full implementation of the many outstanding aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.

``Nationalists and republicans will particularly welcome the commitments on human rights and equality, on demilitarisation and the Irish language and support for the families of all the victims of the conflict.

``It is also essential that we have a new policing service which nationalists and republicans can give their support to and feel confident about joining.

``The Good Friday Agreement must be implemented in full, There can be no dilution or departure from the Agreement.

``The Good Friday Agreement is a vehicle for change. That presents many difficulties for those who have been locked into the divisions and conflict of the past.

``But change is essential if there is to be real equality, real democracy, real justice, and if the rights of the people of this island are to be respected and valued. There must be no more second-class citizens.

``It is now time to stand up for and defend the Good Friday Agreement, irrespective of our background or political allegiance, to confront the rejectionists and to become real partners in this peace process.

``I would urge all of those who voted `yes' in the referendum in May 1998 to rally behind this initiative, support those political leaders and parties who are striving for a new and better future for our children, and give it a fair wind in the time ahead.

``This peace process is a struggle between justice and injustice, between the past and the future. We have it within our grasp to make it a victory for justice, a victory for equality, a victory for democracy, and a victory for the people of this island.''

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