[Sinn Fein]

9 September 1997

Sinn Fein affirm Mitchell Principles

Comments of Sinn Fein President and MP for west Belfast Gerry Adams affirming the Mitchell Principles at Stormont.

Mr. Adams said:

``I welcome the opportunity to affirm these principles on behalf of Sinn Fein.

``Ar dtús ba mhaith liom a rá go bhfuil go han sásta a bheith anseo. Is lá stairúil an lá seo agus is cóim mhaith an cruinniú seo ar an bhothair siocháin.

``We recognise that this is an important gathering. It is an important step in the search for a lasting peace on this island.

``It is a matter of some regret that it has taken so long to get here. We need to be absolutely focussed in moving with all speed into substantive issues. That is our party's commitment.

``Our party has outlined our position in our submission to the International Body. Sinn Fein's attitude goes much further than the Mitchell Principles. Unfortunately the British government narrowed the brief of the Mitchell International Body. For example, on the issue of weapons, we want to take all the guns out of Irish politics. We do not have a sectional view. We want a total demilitarisation of the situation. We want total disarmament. On the issue of prisoners we want them released. We think the British government should look at the issue of prisoners with generosity and particularly look on some of the concerns of the smaller loyalist parties in a spirit of moving forward.

``The main objective of our peace strategy is removing the causes of conflict which allow for the resolution of political issues by democratic and peaceful means.

``I would remind the British government that Sinn Fein is here on the basis of our electoral mandate to put forward our Irish republican analysis. We are pleased that London has affirmed the Mitchell Principles but I am concerned that there have been serious breaches, in particular over the summer, and I hope these will end.

``This will be a challenge, it will be a testing process for us all. I am disappointed that there are some empty chairs. I hope the Unionist leaders can be here as soon as possible and we can find a way to get an agreement that reflects the diversity of all our people. I would like the process to be transparent. I would like all the people of this island to take possession of it. They have a vested interest in a lasting peace and the issues involved are too important to be left to the people in this room alone. If we can find a way to get a process which is organic, which is dynamic, we can move forward.

``To the Chairpersons and all the parties I acknowledge your commitment to this process and wish you all luck. It is important that we come into this with an eye to the future. It can get bogged down but it is important to always look forward and to get a wind of goodwill behind our efforts. That is certainly Sinn Fein's intention. So good luck to everyone present and also to those who are absent.''

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