[Sinn Fein]

10 May 1996

Sinn Fein holds AGM

Sinn Fein, today, Saturday, held its AGM in Belfast

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speaking today to the party's six county AGM in Belfast said:

"Sinn Fein is participating in the election on May 30th to re-iterate our democratic mandate and to assert the right of our electorate to be fully represented in any process of negotiations.

"However, we should not lose sight of the fact that the immediate and urgent priority facing all of us is the restoration of the peace process.

"Two weeks ago in his Finglas speech the Taoiseach John Bruton sought to address the doubt and uncertainty and apprehensions within nationalist Ireland that June 10th will see the commencement of real negotiations. I welcomed his remarks. But I also pointed out that it is crucial that the British government outline its attitude to all these matters in a clear and unambiguous manner.

"In the lead up to the IRA cessation in August 1994, the British government made public commitments that negotiations would begin. Those commitment were subsequently broken. What is required therefore is that the British government give absolute and cast-iron guarantees that negotiations will be meaningful and comprehensive.

"I assume that the Irish government has sought such guarantees from the British government. The British government approach to the peace process can only be judged against a background of 18 months of bad faith.

"Clearly, it is in everyones interest that we have substantive peace negotiations leading to an agreed settlement. It is equally obvious that any process which excludes a significant section of opinion will not work. "While it is unrealistic to expect the chasm of distrust, particularly between Irish republicans and the British government, to be bridged easily or in the short term, it is absolutely critical that the process of negotiations is spelt out with a clarity which builds confidence among those whose recent experience of the British government can only have increased their mistrust and suspicions.

"The Irish government has endeavoured to provide assurances of its intentions. London must do so also. In fact as the government with jurisdiction in the north this is essential. John Major's refusal to engage with the peace process over an 18 month cessation led to its collapse. The reconstruction of the peace process requires a focussed British response which accepts the imperative of honest dialogue and an inclusive agenda, containing no actual or potential stalls. London needs to acknowledge that no outcome to the negotiations is pre-determined or excluded; that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and that there will be a fixed time-frame to create a successful dynamic for negotiations .

"We need a process of negotiation which effectively tackles the causes of conflict and delivers the essential promise of constitutional and political change.

"It is this potential for real change which frightens the unionist and loyalist leaderships. They are opposed to any change. It is this unionist agenda, of retaining the status quo, of blocking change and preventing negotiations and of returning to unionist domination, which lay behind unionist demands for an election and a forum and more recently the threats from loyalist death squads.

"No one should be in any doubt what the consequences for nationalists in the north will be if there is any capitulation to the narrow sectarian unionist agenda. It would mean more inequality; more discrimination, more threats of and actual sectarian violence; more orange marches through nationalist areas; a re-entrenchment of everything that is wrong with this statelet. An effective peace process cannot be based on a one-sided agenda. This must not be allowed to happen.

`Making peace or creating the conditions for making peace challenges all of us. It challenges me but it also challenges John Major and Ian Paisley and David Trimble.

"How do we meet this challenge? For our part Sinn Fein committed to rebuilding a credible peace process which can solve problems democratically and on the basis of equality and understanding.

"We are a republican party. Our objective is to replace the British jurisdiction in Ireland with an new and democratically agreed Irish jurisdiction. We have demonstrated our preparedness to enter into dialogue, to take risks for peace. Over the last numbers of years we have sought, with honesty and integrity to construct a peace process which reaches out to, and embraces everyone on the basis of equality. Our commitment to the search for a lasting peace will stand even the most sceptical scrutiny.

"In this election we will stand on this significant record of achievement. We will provide strong decisive leadership. We offer a way forward which I believe the electorate will recognise as fair and just and holding out the best chance for success.

"Our message is a clear one: a vote for Sinn Fein strengthens the argument for inclusive negotiations as the only way forward. It is unequivocal support for progress based on equality and democracy.

"People want peace - a peace that will last. A peace process is a means to that end. A new negotiated democratic settlement is attainable. It will require courage and vision and a willingness on all sides to step out of the trenches. Sinn Fein is determined to pursue that goal whatever the obstacles."

Sinn Fein Press Office, 44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Tel: +353-1-8726100 and +353-1-8726839   ·   Fax +353-1-8733074
E-mail: sinnfein@irlnet.com   ·   Website: http://www.sinnfein.org

Released in the US by:

Friends of Sinn Fein, 510 C Street, NE, Washington DC 20002
Tel: +1-202-547-8883   ·   Fax +1-202-547-7889
E-mail: fosf@nicom.com   ·   Website: http://www.sinnfein.org

Sinn Fein   ·   Sinn Fein Documents
Web publication by rm@serve.com
Web archival by iig@www.utexas.edu