14 February 1998
No grounds for exclusion - Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP, speaking prior to a meeting of the party's Ard Chomhairle today said:
``There are no grounds for the governments putting us out of the talks and in my view the governments know that. All of the pressure to expel us is coming from the Ulster Unionist Party and other unionists who have seized on these two recent killings and are attempting to bully the governments into breaking their own rules. It is clear that David Trimble will not be satisfied until he has destroyed the possibility of bringing about the type of change which is required for a truly democrats peace settlement.
``I think in all of this you need to look at what Sinn Fein have been doing. Sinn Fein have worked the process which from our republican perspective is flawed in many ways. We have worked for and achieved a substantial mandate. I have disavowed, called for and worked for an end to all killings. Yet on foot of an assessment from the head of a discredited RUC paramilitary force we are going to/may be expelled. Over 100 people have been shot in the last 20 months by loyalists. Where are the forensics, evidence and assessments in all of this. I think it is time that this double standard of continually putting Sinn Fein to the test at the behest of the unionists is put to one side.
``Sinn Fein are in the talks on the basis of our mandate. We don't and have never said we represent the IRA . Any attempt to draw a comparison between Sinn Fein and the UDP is entirely bogus. Just as any attempt to draw a comparison between the expulsion of the UDP and the attempt to expel Sinn Fein is bogus. Sinn Fein have not broken any commitments which we have made and I defy anyone to present evidence to the contrary. I hear some speculation that there is some sort of an exit strategy involved here. That is absolute nonsense. Republicans are committed to making this process work.
Responding to questions on whether the party will challenge to attempt to expel them from the talks legally, Mr. Adams said:
``Firstly I don't want to imply that we are accepting that we are going to be expelled. But if it does happen, it will take place within the jurisdiction of an Irish government under rules which are British legal rules. This is a big political question for Mr. Ahern and I note that he has not yet made any definitive statement on these matters. Is an Irish government, led by a party which has indeed made a contribution going back some time to build this peace process, expelling the representatives of people, especially in the north, on the assessment by the RUC and at the behest of the Unionists. The governments may decide with political expediency that they will put SF out for a week, two weeks, three weeks and keep the unionists satisfied in an attempt to silence us and then bring us back in again. We and our voters and supporters refuse to accept that type of strategy.
Asked if there was a possibility that Sinn Fein won't return to the talks if they are expelled:
``Sinn Fein should not be put out of these talks. The short answer to your question is I don't know what we will do if we are kicked out. I am very angry that we have to deal with this ongoing campaign to marginalise the people who we represent but we haven't discussed what we will do if we are put out. We won't even consider what we will do until we have exhausted every challenge to ensure that we stay in those talks representing and being part of, as we have been so far, the constructive effort to bring about a settlement.''
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