[Sinn Fein]

26 February 1998

Don't give up on hope - Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness speaking today in London said Sinn Fein is totally committed to its peace strategy.

Mr Mc Guinness said:

``The talks process is in crisis. The decision by the two governments to exclude Sinn Fein from the talks process last week has brought to a head the deep seated concerns, frustrations and anger currently felt by many nationalists and republicans.

``The refusal of the unionists to engage properly in the talks, the role of the securocrats within the British establishment in pursuing a military agenda, and the concessions to unionists both inside and outside of the talks, have all eroded confidence in and the credibility of the talks process. It is important that every effort is made to rebuild credibility of the talks process.

``It is important that every effort be made to rebuild credibility into this process, to rescue the peace process so that the search for a lasting peace can succeed. In our view recriminations serve no useful purpose. We are where we are and we have to work forward or attempt to work forward from this reality.

``For our part Sinn Fein will seek, as we always do, to come positively to all of this. Sinn Fein is totally committed to our peace strategy. We are totally committed to negotiations as the only means by which this conflict can be resolved.

``We have always understood that this process would be difficult - that there would be ups and downs. This process is about peace. Peace means justice. Justice requires change . Change or the suggestion of change causes fear. Fear creates opposition. This is particularly true in a conflict situation.

``This process therefore requires management. Sinn Fein is prepared to play our part in the management of that change. The two governments and other parties, particularly the UUP, must also accept the need for change to be managed.

``This means understanding that democracy cannot be linked to structures alone. It must mean fundamental changes on the ground and in every day life. Equality, justice and demilitarisation need to be dealt with now.

``In an attempt to rebuild credibility in the talks process we have asked for meetings with the Irish Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister Mr Blair. The meeting with Mr Ahern took place on Tuesday evening and was useful and informative. I am confident that Tony Blair will also meet us. These meetings will help to improve the atmosphere and the situation.

``This process is currently facing its most demanding challenge yet. People should not give up hope. People should not despair. Sinn Fein is not walking away from our peace strategy. Sinn Fein is absolutely determined to pursue the search for peace.''

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