[Sinn Fein]

October 18th 1999

Adams reiterates SF's commitment to agreement

The following is the full text of the statement issued yesterday by the Sinn Fein president, Mr Gerry Adams:

At this very critical stage in the Mitchell review I thought it might be useful to set out Sinn Fein's position once again. To begin, let me reiterate our commitment to the current efforts to secure the implementation of the Good Friday agreement.Let me say also that I am very conscious of the challenges which unionists face about the future and on the whole question of change. I am very conscious of the difficulties that unionists face about participating in a process of negotiations, and it has long been my view that republicans need to address the concerns of unionists in a spirit of respect and goodwill.This is what Sinn Fein has endeavoured to do.

At the same time no one who is genuinely committed to change can be paralysed by the unwillingness of some less progressive elements to engage.I know that there are some within unionism who have concluded that it is better to dig in and refuse to move rather than negotiate. Others from within loyalism and the UUP are making the effort to engage through dialogue. They do so, in common with all other participants, within their own lights and their efforts are to be commended. However, thus far such efforts have failed to secure the implementation of the agreement.

Most republicans and many nationalists have lost confidence or are losing confidence in the current process. This loss of confidence is reflected also within unionism. This is not to say that these people want the agreement to fail. On the contrary, support for the agreement remains solid, but there is an increasing detachment and disappointment with the lack of progress.I myself believe that the gap between the UUP demand for decommissioning and what is achie vable on this issue appears to be too wide to be bridged in the context of non-implementation of the agreement. Their demand is also outside the terms of the agreement, but Sinn Fein would not be dogmatic on this point if there was some way of meeting the UUP demand.

The reality is that the UUP position is not doable and their project is not helped by their rejection over the last year and a half of a series of efforts by us to resolve this matter on their terms.This reality has to be faced up to. I say this more in sadness than in anger and Sinn Fein will continue to do our best in the Mitchell review because it is my conviction that it will be a huge tragedy if this review fails over this issue. This is another reality that also has to be faced up to.Sinn Fein's view of the future is a broad one.

Sinn Fein is committed to a settlement that will accommodate the rights and aspirations of nationalists and republicans and unionists. We are wedded to the Good Friday agreement. It is a historic compromise and we are totally committed to the implementation of all its elements. This can only come through dialogue and negotiation conducted on the basis of equality and mutual respect and within the terms of the agreement.Sinn Fein does not pretend to have all the answers, but we do have a vision for change, Both sections of our community have suffered grievously. We want to make a difference for this and for future generations.We recognise the fears of the unionist section of our people. We want to make peace with you. We want to share the island of Ireland with you on a democratic and equal basis. We want to see a pluralist Ireland which recognises and celebrates the diversity of all of the people of the island. We take no comfort from the fact that you live in fear about the future.

We want to play our part in removing those fears through dialogue and agreement.I have acknowledged already that republicans have inflicted hurt and that the unionist community has suffered, as we all have. I regret this.It is in all our interests to secure peace. No one will take succor from the failure of the Mitchell review except those elements from within unionism and loyalism, and those on the outer margins of extreme nationalism, who have set their faces against change. They need to be liberated from their fears and prejudices. That is the challenge facing us all but it is especially the challenge faced by unionism.

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