[Sinn Fein]

8 September 1997

Sinn Fein and the Mitchell Principles

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams speaking to the Belfast Telegraph this morning on his return from the USA said: ``I want the British government as well as all the political parties to adopt democratic and peaceful methods to resolve the conflict in Ireland. The British Government cannot escape its responsibility for violence in our country.

Mr. Adams said:

``I am affirming Sinn Fein's commitment to the Mitchell principles on the same basis as all the participants in the talks process. Sinn Fein's positions not only incorporate those outlined by the International Body but some go much further. Indeed the objective of the Sinn Fein peace strategy has been to remove the causes of conflict through the creation of a peace process which would allow for the resolution of political issues by democratic and peaceful means.

``We have also consistently argued for the removal of all guns from Irish groups. We are committed to the total disarmament of all armed groups. The British government dictated that the International Body take a sectional and selective view of the arms issues. Sinn Fein does not take such a sectional view. We want to see total disarmament and total demilitarisation. That is, the removal, forever, of all guns - British, unionist, loyalist and republican - from Irish politics.

``The use of force, or the threat of the use of force, has no place in a democratic process of negotiations. Yet since the commencement of this talks process last June, when the other parties signed up to the Mitchell Principles, we have seen the violence of the British Army and the RUC inflicted on small nationalist communities, particularly on the Garvaghy Road, and the firing by the British forces of thousands of plastic bullets. There have been flagrant and repeated breaches of the loyalist ceasefires. We have also witnessed the use of violence and threats of violence by the unionist leaderships - particularly around the marches issues.

``Having said that, I would hope that the declared commitment by the participants to the Mitchell Principles is reflected in their words and deeds. Our party wishes to be part of a meaningful and successful process of negotiations. We enter these negotiations as an Irish Republican party, on the basis of our electoral mandate and support and with a commitment to engage energetically in the search for a lasting peace settlement in Ireland, based on justice, equality, freedom and democracy.''

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