[Sinn Fein]

8th September 2002

Gerry Adams to meet John Reid

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has expressed concern that the next period will see an increased effort by anti-Agreement unionists and others to undermine the Good Friday Agreement. The Sinn Fein leader will be meeting the British Secretary of State John Reid at Castle Buildings in the morning, in the first of a series of meetings that will include the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ambassador Richard Haas and others.

Mr. Adams said:

Mr, Adams said; 'The focus of the meetings will be to discuss the ongoing sectarian violence, particularly that which is taking place at the interfaces, a review of the proposals to calm and resolve this issue which we have been pushing the British government to implement since the start of the summer, the vexed issue of policing and other matters.

This is not a time for pandering to the no men and women of unionism and to anti-agreement elements within the British system. It is a time for defending and promoting the Good Friday Agreement. It is a time for democrats, including YES unionists, to assert the imperative of that agreement.

The responsibility of all the pro-Agreement parties, and this includes both governments, is to manage this process of change in a way, which minimises the difficulties and avoids the potential for crisis. Unfortunately despite some good and positive work neither the Unionist parties or the British government have adopted this approach with the consistency that is required. The result has been that difficulties for unionists have become a crisis within unionism, which regularly threatens tile over all process.

The Good Friday Agreement has to be implemented in full because the principles that underpin it are the minimum entitlements for all citizens. These include the right of the Sinn Fein electorate to elect representatives of their choice. This is not an optional privilege to be upheld or withheld at the behest of any other political party. It is an entitlement which all parties to the Good Friday Agreement are obliged to uphold. Nor can the equality agenda wait until unionists are ready for it. Policing and demilitarisation and human rights are all matters for Mr. Blair.

There is also a primary responsibility on Mr. Blair to implement the commitments of his government. Unionism needs to be encouraged that there is only one way forward. They need to know that there is no alternative. Only the British Prime Minister and his government can do this.''

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