[Sinn Fein]

12 February 1998

Sinn Fein and the Talks Process

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking at a press conference in Belfast this morning said:

``Sinn Fein's commitment is to honest dialogue and inclusive negotiations leading to a democratic peace settlement. We are in the talks process solely on the basis of our electoral mandate, representing those who voted for us. Sinn Fein does not represent, we are not accountable for and we do not speak for any armed group. We have called for and worked for an end to all killings. That remains our commitment.

We firmly reject any suggestion that there are grounds for excluding Sinn Fein from the talks. The UUP's speedy and superficial attempt to link Sinn Fein to this weeks tragic killings is in stark contrast to the conspiracy of silence in which they colluded to cover up the UFF's killing campaign against catholics.

We also reject any suggestion that we have in any way broken or breached or dishonoured the Mitchell Principles.

On the contrary our involvement in the talks process has been in good faith. While we would have preferred an inclusive and representative process, without pre-conditions, we were barred from playing any role in drawing up the rules and procedures for the talks. Despite this we have abided by them.

The main push at this time to have Sinn Fein excluded from the talks is coming from David Trimble and his colleagues. Their attitude is not one based on any moral stand. It is directed solely by political expediency and their own tactical objective of preventing any meaningful change in the status quo here in Ireland.

Moreover nationalists will recall that one year ago it was widely accepted that the various elements comprising the CLMC had all breached their cessations. A blind eye was turned to all of this. In contrast the IRA has maintained its cessation despite huge provocations from loyalist death squads and the British crown forces. My view is that the IRA cessation is intact.

The harsh truth is that the UUP leadership has constantly sought to subvert this peace process. There are those within that leadership who want the IRA cessation to be over, who would prefer a return to the certainty of war, and the political trenches within which their status quo is safe.

Sinn Fein does not accept that RUC boss Mr. Flanagan has the moral authority to decide whether or not we should be expelled from the talks. He leads a force which is totally discredited. He covered up the killings of catholics in recent months. He has yet to reveal the forensic history of the weapons used to kill catholics.

Whoever was involved in these tragic killings and whatever Mr. Flanagan says about them he cannot say that Sinn Fein was in anyway involved.

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