[Sinn Fein]

23 June 1997

Peace must be built on a solid foundation - Adams

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP speaking at the party's Six County AGM in Dungannon tonight, and following news reports that the Irish and British governments have agreed a position on decommissioning, said:

``Sinn Fein will study very carefully whatever proposals on decommissioning the two governments have agreed.

``Sinn Fein has placed no preconditions at all upon a real process of credible negotiations. We believe that such negotiations if they are to lead to a democratic peace settlement must be based upon equality, which the present talks lack, and must be inclusive and aimed at resolving the core constitutional, political and other matters which underpin the conflict here.

``The Sinn Fein leadership has never stopped working at removing the obstacles erected by John Major's government.

``Obstacles placed by a British government can only be removed by a British government.

``I want to acknowledge that Mr. Blair's government has adopted a different approach and that it has addressed, in varying degrees, the four issues which have been identified as essential to any meaningful negotiations and which Mr. Major refused to address honestly.

``However, it is a reality that the obstacles to credible negotiations have still not been removed.

``Decommissioning was central to the failure to the last peace process. ``Everyone interested in a democratic peace settlement acknowledges that all of these contentious issues are there to deny a level playing pitch. Everyone also knows that it is up to the British government to create this. But it must be built on a solid foundation and that requires absolute clarity. In particular the issue of decommissioning must be removed as an obstacle to talks or in talks.

``Whether or not a peace process is re-established at this time will not deflect Sinn Fein from persisting with our efforts but of course we want the peace process now - the onus is on the British government to deliver.''

As we approach Drumcree and other contentious orange marches the Sinn Fein President also called for calm from all sections and on the Unionist leadership to ``provide clear and positive leadership at this difficult time, and to encourage the loyal institutions to step back from confrontation.''

Mr. Adams said:

``At the core of the contentious marches issue is the much more fundamental issue of equality of treatment. Host communities which find particular marches objectionable have the right to withhold their consent and to have their rights respected and upheld.

``Last year the Orange Order was allowed to walk over the rights of the nationalist community on the Garvaghy Road. The sectarian bias in the institutions of this state, as well as in government, which allowed this to happen were exposed in the most graphic fashion.

``No effort should be spared to avoid a repeat of the confrontation of last year, or in seeking a peaceful accommodation of this difficult issue. This can only be achieved through a process of dialogue on the basis of equality. The unionist and orange leaderships should begin that process now.''

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