[Sinn Fein]

7th May 2003

Gerry Adams calls for June elections

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking at a press conference in London today said:

``The most important thing to say today is that Mr Blair's decision to stop the elections is a serious mistake and a slap in the face to the Good Friday Agreement. Its as if the rule book for conflict resolution has been torn up. Peace requires justice and peace processes are about empowering people, are about a rights centred disposition and are about making politics work. Mr Blair should reverse his decision on the elections and enable them to go forward as soon as possible. There is no reason why there cannot be a June election.

Mr Adams said:

So where is the peace process now?

We have on the one hand a Joint Declaration from the governments that is not an act of completion, but a qualified plan to implement over years the rights and entitlements of citizens. Despite its conditionality this is progress. But the two governments, also stepped outside the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, and introduced in their Joint Declaration a further concession to Mr. Trimble in respect of sanctions. This process of excluding Ministers and parties is specifically aimed at Sinn Fein, and is to be used against us in the event of any allegations about IRA activities.

On the other hand, we have an IRA leadership that is;

- determined there will be no activities which will undermine in any way the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement;

- has clearly stated its willingness to proceed with the implementation of a process to put arms beyond use at the earliest opportunity.

- despite the suspension of the institutions authorised a third act of putting arms beyond use to be verified under the agreed scheme by the IICD.

And accepts that, if the two governments and all the parties fulfil their commitments this will provide the basis for the complete and final closure of the conflict.

This too is significant progress.

No one should underestimate the significance of the IRA engaging with the IICD while the institutions are suspended, or the IRAs willingness to undertake another act of putting arms beyond use. This followed a suggestion by me to facilitate David Trimble`s stated intention of calling a UUC meeting only after the IRA acted on the arms issue. The sequence of events was to be the Joint Declaration - a statement from me in response to this pointing up the difficulty caused by David Trimble's refusal to commit to being part of institutions.

He was then to publicly commit himself to recommending participation in the institutions to the UUC. This public pledge would have triggered the IRA putting more arms beyond use.

When the IRA say their arrangements were at an advanced stage they mean that Volunteers sat for days with a substantial amount of equipment waiting for a yes from the UUP or the British government. That yes never came.

So with the UUP implacably opposed to progress at this point and a British government willing to exercise a unionist veto, we now face into a period of political uncertainty.

For our part, Sinn Fein is in this process to the end.

Our objective in the time ahead will be to campaign to have elections held, and to hold the two governments to the commitments which we negotiated with them over many months and which are in the Joint Declaration.

The substance of these commitments and of those contained within the Good Friday Agreement is about the rights and entitlements of citizens. It is about a new political dispensation on the island of Ireland and a new relationship between Ireland and Britain.

It is about change - fundamental and deep-rooted change - including constitutional and institutional change - across all aspects of society.

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