[Sinn Fein]

29th March 2003

Sinn Fein Ard Fheis 2003

Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris speaking on motion 35 on the peace process

While much has been rightly made of the intransigence and negativity of Unionism during the course of this process, we must not allow the Irish Government to escape some of the responsibility for the current crisis and the failure to ensure that the Agreement is implemented in full.

This point was made very clearly by my colleague Caoimghin O Caolain in Leinster House yesterday when he attacked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Brian Cowan over his assertion that most of the main issues at stake have been resolved. If they were resolved we would clearly not be in the current predicament.

There is also the clear implication coming from the Dublin Government; that Sinn Fein are in some way being unreasonable because of our insistence that the Agreement is fully implemented and that issues such as demilitarisation, policing and others are dealt with now. Let it be clearly understood. We will be satisfied with nothing less than a timetable to dismantle the British war machine in the Six Counties and to create a fully accountable police force worthy of a democratic open society and not one that is run by a secret political police force with an appalling record of torture and murder and collusion.

Sinn Fein is not the SDLP. We are not going to be satisfied by vague promises and nice new uniforms for the police or a few places on the Police Authority.

But more importantly, neither are the people who have supported our movement over the course of this struggle and we will accept nothing less on their behalf.

Fianna Fáil as a party that claims to be republican and which claims to represent the national interest must begin to act as though it actually believes that. It must begin to act on the basis of its own founding principles and the wishes of the vast majority of its supporters and become a real advocate for Irish nationalism in the negotiations.

It must begin to act as though it believes, as does every Irish nationalist with a drop of blood in their veins, that the British army has no more business being in Fermanagh than in Ferbane in Minister Cowan s own county. And until we are satisfied that these negotiations are going to make that a reality there will be no deal.

We have had enough of British and Unionist bad faith to realise that unless these issues are tied down prior to any agreement, then they will be watered down or ignored afterwards. It is up to Minister Cowan and his Government, therefore, to join with Sinn Fein in ensuring that the Agreement is implemented in full and that we can move on to make it a reality in the lives of all of the people on this island.

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