[Sinn Fein]

20 July 1997

Momentous Day

Statement from Sinn Fein President and MP for West Belfast, Gerry Adams, commenting on the commencement of the IRA's cessation.

Mr. Adams said:

``Today is the start of a new and challenging era. I want to commend the IRA leadership for the momentous and brave decision. I appreciate it wasn't an easy decision to take. It is imperative that all political leaders embrace this new opportunity for peace.

``It is a challenging time. I urge people particularly the unionists to declare a cessation in their heads, search for new and generous language to address their political opponents. We all have reasons to be suspicious of each other but we have to rise to the occasion that is before us and lead the people of this island into a new and peaceful future.

``The British government now must address the whole issue of confidence building measures. There is a wide expectation that there will be movement on prisoners. There is also a need for urgent movement by the British government on the equality agenda which brings change to people's lives now.

``The Irish government also have a direct responsibility to advance the situation and to effectively promote Irish national interests.

``I look forward to the future with optimism and expectation that if there is a political will we can put behind us the long and difficult conflict.''

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