[Sinn Fein]

14 March 2002

Adams critical of British handling of the Good Friday Agreement

Speaking in Seattle Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP was critical of the British Government's handling of the Good Friday Agreement and of the issues within it, which have yet to be resolved. He described the approach of the British government as one of creating as much as managing crises. Mr. Adams said:

``The British Government approach to the Good Friday Agreement has created the difficulties over policing and demilitarisation and other aspects of the Agreement. The situation within unionism has been exacerbated and sustained in part by the British attitude.

``At the same time Mr. Blair's approach outlined at Weston Park to rectify the anomaly over OTRs has been seized upon by the Tories and others to attack the Blair government. This matter should have been sorted out long before now and the way it has been allowed to fester has played into the hands of opponents of the Agreement.

``There is a lack of joined up government on all of these matters and the approach by London has been one of creating as much as managing crisis.

``This attitude has been compounded by a tendency of the British government to pander to unionism or to interests within its own system. This is at the root of John Reid's recent u-turn on the symbols on court buildings and the refusal to proceed with inquests.

``The period ahead will see the commencement of the unionist marching season. Mr. Trimble's recent remarks have given us a taste of what is likely to be echoed from other platforms.

``No one should be in any doubt that there has been great progress made in Ireland or that the process will continue to move forward. At the same time there should be no doubt that this could be achieved with less problems for everyone and in a more sustained and stabilising way if Tony Blair's government applied itself to fully implementing all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.

``The British government is as much a part of the Agreement as anyone else. London is not a referee. Neither is the British government neutral. It is a player. And it has to play by the Good Friday Agreement rules.''ENDS

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