21 June 1996
``Despite my best efforts to give detailed frank and honest responses to the questions posed by the Taoiseach he has persisted in dismissing my responses.
``I have made it clear that I want to see an end to armed struggle, to all armed actions and to take the gun permanently out of Irish politics. That is Sinn Fein's commitment''.
``I can't do that on my own. We all have a responsibility to create the right conditions in which that can happen and a peace settlement can be built and agreed.
``Sinn Fein is reluctant to get into a public row with the Irish government. We believe that that is not in the best interests of efforts to restore the peace process. I have said this both privately and publicly.
``We have never expected the Taoiseach to take up Sinn Fein positions but it seems he wants us to take up Fine Gael positions. He wants to ask Sinn Fein questions and then write our responses. This is clearly not the way to build confidence or engage in a meaningful dialogue.
``The reality is that we each come to this situation from different perspectives. I am an Irish republican. Sinn Fein wants to see an end to British rule in Ireland. We know others hold a different view and that these differences can only be reconciled and a peace settlement achieved through honest and inclusive dialogue and real negotiations.
``I firmly believe that a peace process can only succeed if it is inclusive and based on equality.
``Does Mr Bruton? Can a peace process succeed if it excludes a significant body of opinion?
``Others are now asking, what contribution to rebuilding the peace process is made by Mr Bruton's current strategy of attacking the Sinn Fein leadership, of questioning and undermining our commitment to and role in the search for peace.
``Can he explain how his policy of moving to exclude Sinn Fein is any more likely to work now than at any time in the past when it failed?
``Does he not accept that as leader of the Irish nation it is his responsibility to defend the rights of all citizens - even those with whom he might disagree?
``Where does Mr. Bruton stand on the whole issue of British violence in the north; its military occupation and claim of sovereignty over a part of Ireland; to the use of force to push orange marches through nationalist areas?
``While the focus on the Irish side is now on the differences between Sinn Fein and the Irish government, the British government has succeeded in off-loading its responsibilities to an incomplete process of negotiation at Stormont.
``Nationalists are not surprised when a British government pursues such a course of action but Mr Bruton has to explain his stance.
``Mr. Bruton must know by now that the British government is not neutral and that the British government acts only in its own national interests. Mr Bruton has a responsibility to defend Irish national interests.
``The alternative to armed struggle which was put together at great risk and against a background of substantially greater conflict and which succeeded for a time in 1994, requires the collective effort of us all.
``Despite our different political perspectives the building of a viable peace process must remain our common objective.''
Sinn Fein Press Office, 44 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Released in the US by:
Friends of Sinn Fein, 510 C Street, NE, Washington DC 20002