[Sinn Fein]

23 April 1998

Adams Hits Back at SDLP/Unionist Criticisms

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP this morning met the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for a 45 minute meeting which he described afterwards as ``good and very useful''.

Speaking following the meeting Mr Adams said:

``The meeting covered a wide range of issues, including the refusal of the British government to fund the Irish language schools, Bunscoil Phobal Feirste, Belfast and Meanscoil Doire, the ``unfortunate and untimely intervention'' by the British Prime Minister in the Parades Commission, the release of political prisoners and British Army and RUC harassment and activity on the ground in nationalist areas of the north''.

Responding to questions the Sinn Fein President said that while he thought the referendum ``will be passed north and south many people have major concerns about the ambiguity and language used in the Good Friday document.

``People want peace. Nationalists see this document as a step, the basis for advancement, but a lot of issues still need further progress. This is not a settlement. There is a lot of unfinished business which needs to be completed before there is a proper settlement.''

Mr Adams described yesterday's comments from SDLP representative Mark Durkan attacking Sinn Fein as ``disappointing''.

``Sinn Fein is an activist party and party members will come to a decision on the Good Friday document when they have thoroughly discussed it. That is their right.

``It is worth noting that all of the unionist parties, and now the SDLP, who have set out their stall on this document have attacked Sinn Fein.

``I would challenge those parties who are based exclusively in the 6 counties or 26 counties, and who have accused Sinn Fein of partitionism, to put up or shut up by organising throughout the island''.

The Sinn Fein leader described the controversy around the release of anyone convicted of the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe ``as quite contrived''. He accused the Gardaí of having created this artificial controversy ``despite the fact that no one has been convicted and those charged are innocent''. He added: ``The simple fact is that all political prisoners have to be released as part of a settlement.''

Concluding, Gerry Adams said:

``the British Prime Minister's intervention in the Parades Commission is unfortunate and untimely''.

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