[Sinn Fein]

14 March 1997

Adams Welcomes Senator's Speech

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has described tonights speech by Senator Ted Kennedy as ``positive, constructive and an indication of Senator Kennedy's obvious and deep commitment to the rebuilding of the peace process in Ireland and the achievement of a permanent peace settlement.''

Mr. Adams commented:

``This is further evidence that mainstream US political opinion and Irish America remains totally engaged with the issue of peace and commitment to reconstructing the opportunity to secure a lasting peace in Ireland.

``The Senator's review of the events of recent years rightly identifies the balanced, even handed and essential engagement of President Clinton, and the risks which he has taken to help make progress. President Clinton's role in the search for peace has at all times been constructive and can play a key role in the reconstruction of the peace process.

``Moreover, the Senator's review of the recent past is useful, identifying the mistakes which were made so that these can be avoided in the context of a revived peace process. He correctly criticises those who describe the 18 month IRA cessation as a sham; it was, of course, genuine. And he points out that it was the British government and the unionist leaderships which erected barriers and pre-conditions; that the pre-condition of decommissioning was a bogus issue introduced to keep Sinn Fein out of talks.

``Despite these difficulties I believe that the peace process can be restored, when a British government is prepared to take the steps necessary to bridge the gap of distrust which currently exists.

``Sinn Fein is committed to inclusive democratic negotiations. These will best be conducted in a wholly peaceful environment. But even if there was such an environment at this time no one knows when Sinn Fein will be admitted into substantive talks.

``The British government has retained a veto over our entry into substantive negotiations and neither myself, John Hume or the Irish government has so far been able to elicit a direct answer from London. The onus is on John Major to provide this answer.

``When a meaningful and inclusive process of negotiations is genuinely being offered we could, with credibility, seek to persuade the IRA to restore the cessation of August 1994. The key to this is in John Major's hands.'' ENDS

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