[Sinn Fein]

19 January 2001

Tony Blair must make it work

Commenting on the recent discussions at Hillsborough, Sinn Fein Vice-President and Assembly member for West Tyrone, Mr Pat Doherty, said:

``The British government came to the discussions in recent days looking for what some have described as `a modest deal'.

``What is required is a resolution of the current crisis within the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

``This needs to encompass all of the issues and matters in crisis: policing, demilitarisation, resolving the arms issue and the permanency of the institutions. This is Sinn Fein's objective in the current discussions and the core of the discussions between ourselves and Tony Blair over recent days. The British have been resisting this.

``Part of our effort has been to persuade the British government that they need to stretch themselves and to move away from the idea of a `modest deal'. Notions of a big deal, a middle deal, a modest deal are a distraction. There will either be a deal or there will not be.

``If this is to work - and it will not work unless Mr Blair makes it work - it is important that UUP leader David Trimble accepts his responsibilities in all of this. We cannot have the most senior figure in the Assembly and the Executive behaving like a maverick, acting outside the Good Friday Agreement and his own office.

``The obstacles to a breakthrough include resistance from the British government to the changes required on policing, though Mr Blair has agreed to look at propositions put by Sinn Fein and that is useful.

``There is resistance also on demilitarisation; and on this issue Mr Blair has said he accepts the conflict resolution imperative for demilitarisation and for creating republican confidence around this issue. This has long been a point made by Sinn Fein and that is also useful.

``However, Mr Blair has yet to assert his authority on this issue. The British approach, despite the rhetoric, is tactical and governed not by politics and politicians but by militarism and securocrats.

``There are other issues which need to be resolved, including the stability of political institutions. Sinn Fein remains engaged in the effort to sort out all of this out.

``Finally, on behalf of Sinn Fein and indeed republicans and nationalists in general, I pay tribute to the contribution of President Clinton to the development of the peace process. He has made a significant contribution to the process and indeed we would not have come as far without his advice and encouragement.''

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