[Sinn Fein]

22 March 1998

Trimble rewarded for instransigence

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speaking today on the eve of the party's return to the Talks Process said:

``In our view an agreement is possible in theory by May. Unfortunately David Trimble shows no evidence of engaging in, or preparing his constituency for, the sort of substantive changes which are required for a lasting peace.

``David Trimble's refusal to talk to Sinn Fein points up a major gap which needs to be bridged if we are to make progress. This has been made more difficult because Mr Trimble has been rewarded for his intransigence.

``He has his promise of an Assembly. He hasn't had to budge one inch for that. He has the promise of changes to Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution and he hasn't had to budge an inch for that. It is hardly surprising therefore that Mr Trimble behaves as he does. It is only when the two governments start to bring about changes in the situation that Mr Trimble will properly engage.

``There has to be substantive change on all areas; constitutional, political, institutional, social and cultural matters, demilitarisation, including the release of all of the prisoners and on the equality agenda. Any agreement must be clearly in an all-Ireland context with north/south bodies exercising significant and meaningful executive and harmonising powers/ with direct responsibility for policy and the implementation of that policyt with no limit on the nature and the extent of their functions and with the dynamic to grow.

``The issue of fundamental change in British constitutionality is a key issue. There can be no redefinition of the Irish national territory or any dilution of the rights of Irish citizens. That would be a major grievous mistake. Nationalists in the north are not a minority in someone else's state. We are Irish citizens, living in our own country.

``Sinn Fein wants to strengthen citizens rights. We want the people of the north having the right to vote in Presidential elections and, if they chose, to send their representatives to the Dublin Parliament.

``Nationalists want to move towards Irish unity and see this process as a bndge in that direction. If we are told that there cannot be Irish unity by May, and Sinn Fein has accepted that although we remain totally wedded to that objective, then there cannot be a united British Kingdom by May. There has to be an agreement which protects and safeguards the rights of all sections of the Irish people.

``Sinn Fein has serious reservations about this talks process. Our concerns are based on our experience over the past 6 months. However~ despite these concerns we are in these talks and beyond these talks to achieve a realistic democratic peace settlement. We were unjustly pushed out of the talks in February but we are back tomorrow to get the sort of substantive changes which are required to achieve a lasting and durable peace.''

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