[Sinn Fein]

17 January 2001

Sinn Fein response to Blair visit reports

Sinn Fein North Belfast Assembly Member Gerry Kelly commenting on news reports that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to come to the Six Counties today and hold talks tomorrow.

Mr. Kelly said:

``There was universal recognition, and it was patently the case, that the big moves last May came from Irish republicans.

``This originated, in the first instance, in the doggedness of the Sinn Fein leadership to create an initiative in the face of the British governments collapse of the institutions in February.

``It came, in the second instance, in the two pronged IRA initiative - firstly on arms inspections and secondly in their commitment to put weapons beyond use in a given context.

``All of this was beyond the requirements and obligations of the Good Friday Agreement. The British government's contribution was little more than to fulfil their obligations under that Agreement.  The failure of the British government to honour those obligations has considerably exacerbated the situation.

``Mr. Blair's visit is to be welcomed only if it signals an intention by him to fulfil his responsibilities.  The big contribution this time round to the effort to stabilise the process must come from Mr. Blair.''

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