[Sinn Fein]

1 October 2001

Adams arrives in South Africa

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP arrived in Johannesburg this morning at the start of a four-day visit to South Africa.

The visit will include a meeting with former President Nelson Mandela on Tuesday and the unveiling of a monument on Robben Island on Wednesday, to those in jail in Ireland and South Africa who died and suffered on hunger strike.

Mr. Adams will also hold a series of public and private meetings with senior ANC figures, including the party's executive and with Cyril Ramaphosa.

Speaking at a press conference on his arrival the Sinn Fein President took the opportunity to thank the South African government, and in particular Nelson Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki for their help and contribution to the peace process in Ireland. He also thanked President Mbeki for facilitating senior members of the government and ANC to travel to Ireland on occasion to help at difficult points in our process, and most recently for Cyril Ramaphosa, who is making a vital contribution to the process as an arms inspector.

Mr. Adams said:

``I am looking forward to my various meetings and discussions. South African help and advice has been enormously helpful in the past and could help Sinn Fein in our attempts to seek a resolution of the current deepening crisis in the peace process.

``The Irish peace process is in serious trouble. It has probable reached its most critical point in 7 years. The determination of the unionists to pursue a renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement and the British government's failure to honour its commitments in the Agreement, while acceding to unionist demands, has undermined the process. It has also eroded confidence between the pro-Agreement parties.

``Sinn Fein's commitment and our over-riding priority is to make the peace process work.

``While it is our view that the primary responsibility for ending this crisis rests with the two governments, Sinn Fein will not shirk our responsibilities.

``In the past I have found the advice and experience of the ANC invaluable as we have sought to chart our way through the difficulties thrown up by resistance to the change that the peace process heralds.

``I have no illusions about the enormous difficulties to be overcome. But Sinn Fein is committed to building a permanent peace in Ireland.

``The prize of peace and the advances we have made are too important for all of us to squander this opportunity.''ENDS

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