[Sinn Fein]

18 December 2000

Sinn Fein involved in intense discussions

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP is the guest of honour at a Civic Reception in Castlebar, County Mayo.  Speaking at the event Mr. Adams confirmed that ``Sinn Fein is engaged in intense discussions with the British and Irish governments.''

Mr. Adams said:

``The aim of Sinn Fein in our discussions with the British government is to get it to face up to its responsibilities.  During his visit here last week President Clinton outlined a way to get the process back on the rails.  Essentially this was the May deal agreed at HIllsborough seven months ago.

``The problems facing Sinn Fein and others trying to rescue the process include the marked lack of trust among republicans and nationalists of the British government.  This goes beyond the normal historic and political caution and arises from the failure, or refusal, of the British government to stand by the Good Friday Agreement.

``These difficulties have been compounded by David Trimble torpedoing the already fragile arrangements with his six point recommendations that he put to the Ulster Unionist Party Council meeting at the end of October.  In addition Mr. Trimble did not help matters with his remarks at the Odyssey centre last Friday when he gratuitously and unnecessarily behaved as if he was addressing a UUP conference instead of a rally involving all sections of the community.

``None of the efforts to end this present crisis will work unless Mr. Blair is able to deal with these difficulties.  For example, current efforts to get the demilitarisation process started appear to be opposed by the British military establishment.  And the policing issue is still bogged down in the mire created over the summer by the chicanery which marked the British governments handling of this issue.

``Nonetheless Sinn Fein is doing our best to find a way out of this impasse.  In my view this will be very difficult at this time, not only for these reasons but because the UUP stands poised for yet another UUC meeting in the New Year.  Undoubtedly this will be convened on the basis of the wrecker's charter proposed by Mr. Trimble at the last UUC meeting.

``The fact is that the Good Friday Agreement is not the `Northern Ireland' Good Friday Agreement - it is an all-Ireland Agreement voted for by people throughout Ireland.

``The Good Friday Agreement is also an international treaty signed by the British and Irish governments.

``It therefore has legal status in international law - a status that demands action by both governments on David Trimble's current discriminatory ban on the two Sinn Fein Ministers attending meetings of the All-Ireland Ministerial Council.

``I am calling on the Irish government to bring the British government before the International Court of Justice for its breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

``Before it can do this the Irish government needs to make a declaration recognising the competence of the Court in respect of international disputes.  Speedy movement now would allow the Irish government to take action.

``All of this has to be seen in context.  Opposition to the Agreement, opposition to Sinn Fein in government in the north and to our presence on the all-Ireland Ministerial Council, is really opposition to the change that is needed if the promised new dispensation is to have any credibility. ``The current crisis arises in the first instance from the failure of the British government to honour the commitments it made, first in November of last year and again in May of this year.

``And in the second instance from the political space the British government has given to the UUP leader David Trimble who continues to behave like a unionist leader and not as a First Minister.  We should not be surprised by this.

``But the British government has no such excuse.  In May it publicly committed itself to implementing the Patten report on Policing.

``The British government also committed itself to a process of demilitarisation.

``On both of these critical issues to the future stability of the peace process the British government has not delivered.

``If London is serious about making peace then it has to convince Irish republicans that it can be trusted to keep its word.

``That means delivery now on commitments already made.''

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