[Sinn Fein]

8th April 2002

Sinn Fein responds to IRA arms initiative

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon about the latest IRA arms initiative, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP, accompanied by Louth councillor Arthur Morgan and Upper Bann MLA Dara O'Hagan, said,

``Let me begin by welcoming todays news. It is further evidence of the IRA's commitment to the peace process.

``No one should underestimate the difficulties this causes for many republicans. This includes many, many republicans and nationalists who have never been near guns and who never want to see guns used again.

``For them this is another huge move by the IRA leadership.

``This initiative also has to be set against the multiple failures in the implementation of the Agreement, principally by the British government.

``The Army statement makes it clear that this is a unilateral initiative. That it is a leadership initiative and that it is taken at a time when others are not fulfilling their obligations. In fact it makes the point that it is precisely because of this, and because it wishes the peace process to be stabilised that it has moved once again.

``It is obvious to anyone interested in implementing the Good Friday Agreement that on policing, on demilitarisation, human rights, equality and justice there remain significant gaps between what was agreed over four years ago in the GFA and what has been delivered so far.

``These difficulties can be traced back to the behaviour and attitude of those within the British system, the securocrats and bureaucrats, who refuse to accept the imperatives of making peace.

``The failure of the British government to face down these people has given encouragement to their efforts.

``There are sections of unionism who also oppose change.

``All of this is unacceptable and must stop.

``The IRA is leading by example.

``If this peace process is to succeed others, but especially the British government, have to accept responsibility for these difficulties and move to curb the dangerous and damaging actions of those over whom they have influence and control.

``It is time to see real progress being made on all of these outstanding issues.

``We have only to look at the Middle East to see that the imperative of peace making has to prevail''.

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