[Sinn Fein]

May 25th 2002

Adams calls for a rigorous review of progress made in the implementation of the Agreement

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking at the first meeting of the party's Ard Chomhairle following the general election, called for "a rigorous review of the progress made thus far in the process of implementing the Good Friday Agreement".

Mr. Adams said: "There is a need for a rigorous review - a stocktaking - of the progress made thus far in the process of implementing the Good Friday Agreement.

"This has to include the two governments record of delivery on their obligations under the Agreement. The British government in particular has a case to answer in relation to its failure to deliver a new, civic accountable policing service; its lack of progress on the crucial issue of demilitarisation; the serious gap that exists in the promotion of the equality agenda; or the creation of a Bill of Rights, and much more.

"But no party should be above scrutiny in relation to its record.

"The media focus is understandably upon the difficulties within unionism. This focus and the way it has been exploited by both pro and anti agreement unionist parties has tended to obscure both the actual progress that has been made as well as the work that has yet to be done.

"The actual progress in terms of the benefits of the political institutions for all citizens and the huge improvements on the conflict front, have to be balanced against the sectarian campaign which is making life intolerable for many people living in interface areas. The unacceptable behaviour of the PSNI, the raids on nationalist and republican homes, the plastic bullets and the assaults, including one which left the Chairperson of Belfast Sinn Fein in intensive care, are also sources of grave concern and tension. They make the Agreements requirements in respect of the right to freedom from sectarian harassment and the right to choose ones place of residence meaningless words on a piece of paper.

"The process of stock-taking, which must encompass all of these matters, will best be undertaken by an implementation meeting or a series of such meetings to deal in a measured way with the various concerns of the parties and their constituencies.

"The Good Friday Agreement is a compromise between conflicting positions. Bedding that Agreement down, implementing it fully and stabilising the peace process has to be the priority for the new Irish government.

"The Good Friday Agreement is an all-Ireland Agreement. The requirements and logic of the agreement are that these provisions are implemented to the mutual benefit of all the people of this island and that they are developed to these ends and not frozen at the point of lift-off. These include:

* a joint committee of the Human Rights Commission, * an all-Ireland parliamentary forum, and * an all-Ireland civic forum

"The challenge to unionists should not be underestimated by the rest of us but neither should anyone ignore the fact that the essential basis of the Agreement is about the democratic rights and entitlements which cannot be filtered or withheld, minimised or delayed at the behest of any section.

"Remember what we are trying to do. We're trying to unravel centuries of conflict. That means centuries of hostility between human beings and powerful memories of the recent past of hurt and pain on all sides. Powerful emotions clashing with each other at an individual and community level.

"Republicans need to be very very conscious of our responsibility towards the unionist section of our people but unionist leaders also need to be mindful of their responsibility to build confidence among republicans. There is little point in the UUP leadership railing against republicans unless he is also prepared to accept his part in the collective responsibility to fulfil all parts of the Good Friday Agreement."

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