[Sinn Fein]

10 April 1998

Address to the plenary talks in Castle Buildings
by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams

I want to thank and pay tribute to Senator Mitchell, Prime Minister Holkeri and General de Chastelain for their contribution to the negotiating proce and for their unassailable patience throughout.

The presence of An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair clearly created a focus which broke the stalemate. In our view this focus could have brought even greater forward movement and in the months ahead it can deliver further progress.

I hope that when they leave here they will have left behind new arrangments which allow us to put the past behind us and help us build a bridge into a future for all the Irish people based om justice, equality and freedom.

I want to also than the other participants in this process. We have a long way to go if we are to achieve a durable and lasting peace. I think all of us shared a very unique experience here in Castle Buildings. I want to thank the administration and much burdened catering staff and everyone who eased our stay here.

Clearly, there is a huge gap of distrusty betwen nationalists and unionists. It must be bridged on the basis of equality. No process which excludes any section of opinion can hope to be succesful. That has been our objective in this proces. We have resisted attempts to force us out, to marginalise us, to silwence and intimidate us. We are here representing our electorate. We wil continue to represent our electorate.

These negotiatios and the new arrangements which result from them are part of our colective journey from the failures of the past and towards a future of equals. We remian absolutely committed to our Irish republican objectives. We will continue to pursue these objectives in the months and years ahead.

British poliicy in Ireland has manifestly failed. Partition has failed. The decads of unionist rule in the north were exclusive and partisan. Those days are gone forever. There is no going back to the failed policies and structures of the past, to the domination of a one party unionist state supported by the British government.

I have always made it clear that our negotiating team will go back to the Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) of Sinn Fein. We will assess the document in the context of our peace strategy: Does it remove the causes of conflict? Can it be developed and is it transitional? As in the past we will approach this development in a positive manner.

But for now it is time to draw breath. It is time to reflect. Republicans and nationalists will come to the document with scepticism but also with hope. Is it a new beginning?

Sinn Fein will ask all those questions also. When we have democratically come to a conclusion we will let you know.

Sinn Fein faces into the future confident and determined.

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