[Sinn Fein]

18th September 2002

Gerry Adams meets Tony Blair in Downing Street

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking following a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Downing Street called on Mr. Blair to return to the task of implementing the Good Friday Agreement. Mr. Adams said:

``Over the last ten years there has been huge change in Irish society as a result of the peace process and in comparison to other parts of the world some of this change has been quite spectacular.

``Part of the reason why this happened was due to the role of the British government and the fact that it had a strategy which it applied to create the conditions for conflict resolution.

``It now appears that they are in danger of losing that strategic vision and replacing it with complacency, short term tactical management and indeed returning to the old game of bolstering unionists and pointing the finger of blame at republicans.

``The last two years should have been about building on the Good Friday Agreement. It should have been about delivering change. John Reid has failed to do this. But it is obvious to all of us that instead of this happening the last two years have seen the process falling into a trough.

``Over the last two years unionists have increasingly behaved as if they believe they can stop the change promised in the Good Friday Agreement. This has included repeated threats to the political institutions and repeated attempts to stop progress on equality, human rights, criminal justice, policing, the all-Ireland agenda and a whole range of other crucial issues.

``We are all aware of the dangers which ensue when there is a political vacuum. This summer people in the Short Strand and North Belfast lived under siege from nightly attacks by loyalist gangs. And last weekend the UDA attempted mass murder in the city of Belfast. Now they have turned their guns on each other as they fight over drug money.

``If ever there was a time for the British government to re-focus it is now. I am calling on Tony  Blair to return to the task of implementing the Good Friday Agreement.''

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