[Sinn Fein]

26 March 1998

Historic Agreement Possible

Statement from Sinn Fein negotiator Bairbre de Brun responding to the statement from the Chairpersons today.

Ms. de Brun said:

``Sinn Fein agrees with the assessment presented by the Chairpersons that an agreement would be possible within the timeframe envisaged provided that all parties engage in good faith. Sinn Fein is willing to go the extra mile to achieve this although it must be stressed that we cannot do it alone.

``However the attitude of the unionists must be taken into any assessment with regard to the possibility of an agreement. Their behaviour over the last few days suggests that they are still stalling and refusing to engage not just with Sinn Fein but with the process. In view of this we believe that the two governments and especially the British government must inject greater momentum into the negotiations to move the situation forward.

``There is an opportunity beginning next Monday to secure an historic agreement which could end centuries of conflict. The unionists must not be allowed to frustrate the efforts of those who are willing to talk, willing to agree. Their obstructionist tactics over the last few days are a pertinent reminder that unionists are not just refusing to talk to Sinn Fein. They have turned their face against an agreement.

``The issues of concern for Sinn Fein which we will bring into the talks next week cover the need for a comprehensive agenda to address sovereignty and constitutional issues including the British government's aggressive claim over part of Ireland and the need for powerful all-Ireland institutions, the equality agenda in all aspects, policing and demilitarisation including the release of political prisoners. We will also be arguing for more use of cross-strand meetings. This approach could also help to focus minds and save valuable time.''

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