[Sinn Fein]

23 October 2001

Carthy responds to recent events

Speaking after yesterday's comments by Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, local Councillor Matt Carthy said:

``In recent weeks the Sinn Fein leadership have been engaged in intensive discussions with the British government, the Irish government, the other parties and the administration in the US. The purpose of those discussions was to find a way of saving the Good Friday Agreement and to do so in a way that is going to allow the process for move forward decisively. This means that everyone has to live up to their responsibilities.

``In the course of these discussions talks were also held with the Irish Republican Army.

``The objective of all of these talks was to create the context in which politics will work, in which the political institutions are stable, inclusive and sustained and in which all of the parties share in the effort to build trust and confidence.

``The almost absolute focus on IRA weapons against the backdrop of daily gun and bomb attacks by loyalists on the nationalist community and the continued militarisation of the six counties by the British Army exposes the double standards of those who have sought to use the issue to stall the peace process.

``In spite of these double standards Republicans have at all times sought to move the process forward. We recognised that the issue of all arms needed to be addressed. That is republican arms as well as loyalist and British arms. We have recognised that this is a necessary part of any conflict resolution process.

``It was with this in mind and the fact that the process was on the edge of collapse that the Sinn Fein leadership approached the IRA and put it to them that if they made a groundbreaking move on the arms issue that this could save the process and transform the situation.

``We know the IRA is committed to building a genuine peace process but no one should underestimate how difficult a move this will be for the IRA. Many republicans will have grave reservations about it.

``Those reservations can best be alleviated by those who have up until now acted negatively and against the peace process responding positively and generously to any initiative the IRA may make over the coming days.

``Sinn Fein wants to see a fair and just society for all the people of Ireland. We want to replace conflict and strife with genuine partnership and equality.

``This then is the time for all of us do everything in our power to make our peace process a success, for the benefit of all our own people, for a decent and just and democratic future and as a beacon of hope for people everywhere.''

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