[Sinn Fein]

21 June 1997

Decommissioning remains the biggest stumbling block - Adams

Responding to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's comments today Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said:

``These are testing times for everyone and none of us, especially people in political leadership can allow the harsh reality and the tragic consequences of the conflict here to deflect us from the search for a democratic peace settlement.

``Mr. Blair knows the Sinn Fein position. He also knows a peace process must be inclusive. It must be based on equality. Our party is totally focussed on creating a dynamic of credible talks processes. This is a shared responsibility. It means removing the obstacles created by the last British government. To do this absolute clarity is required. Especially on this issue of decommissioning.

``Decommissioning has not yet been removed as an obstacle in the negotiations. This remains the biggest stumbling block.

``Sinn Fein has no preconditions for our entry into talks. We should be there anyway on the same basis as the other parties, and that is because of our democratic mandate. It is counter-productive to ignore that mandate or to bow to the whims of unionism.

``No good will come of the current efforts to blame Sinn Fein for recent killings. Short-termism has never worked in the past. Peace making is a difficult business.

``Mr. Blair has the capacity to create a real peace process. He has the responsibility to do so. I also have a responsibility as does the Irish government and other political leaders. I will not shirk by responsibility.''

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