[Sinn Fein]

22nd February 2003

Time running Out - Adams

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams commenting on recent speculation about the state of the negotiations said in Belfast today:

"In recent days Sinn Fein's extensive and concentrated negotiations with the two governments has significantly intensified. The timeframe set by the two governments shortly after Mr. Blair's speech last October is almost exhausted. Our focus is on securing a definitive plan for the implementation of the many aspects of the Good Friday Agreement that Mr. Blair acknowledged his government had failed to implement.

Despite early efforts by the unionists to reduce this crisis and negotiation to a single item agenda, our discussions have covered all of the key areas from policing, through justice issues, the transfer of power, demilitarisation, equality and human rights matters, as well as the Irish language.

Contrary to some speculation there is not one or two priority issues for Sinn Fein. We are looking to see progress across all of these matters.

I welcome the indication from the British side that they are now prepared to legislate on matters around policing and justice which 18 months ago they said was unnecessary. But as ever the devil is in the detail. There are outstanding issues on policing which need to be resolved in a transparent way, as part of or before power is transferred. Weston Park type declarations are not enough.

Similarly the Justice system needs to be made both accountable and representative of the society it is supposed to serve. This requires fundamental change. Without this it cannot be "fair and impartial' or have "the confidence of all parts of the community' as promised in the Good Friday Agreement.

While we have many concerns the failure of the unionists to engage properly and the way in which unionist insecurity is being cited by British government negotiators as a brake on implementing change, is deeply disturbing.

Apart from any other issue the unionists need to be give clear and definitive commitments that they will be part of the political institutions ands that they will sustain and stabilise these institutions.

This negotiation, like the Good Friday Agreement five years ago, is fundamentally about people's right. These rights should be automatic entitlements for every citizen. They are not concessions whose implementation and enforcement is dependent upon unionist permission or its narrow interpretation of the Good Friday Agreement.

The two government's schedule for resolving the crisis in the peace process is almost exhausted. Sinn Fein is determined to pursue this negotiation but it cannot work if the governments move away from the template agreed five years ago on Good Friday, or if unionism is allowed to exercise vetoes over issues which must see radical movement.

Republicans need to be convinced that the two governments, but especially the British government, is serious this time about keeping and honouring commitments, and that real and substantial progress toward full implementation of the Agreement is now available."

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