[Sinn Fein]

8 November 1996

Visa decision `disappointment'

Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) member Dodie McGuinness has expressed''disappointment at the decision of the Australian government to refuse Gerry Adams a visa''.

She added: ``At a time when Mr. Adams and Mr. Hume are working hard to restore the peace process this decision is most unhelpful.''

Ms. McGuinness said:

``It is universally recognised, even by the British government, that Gerry Adams has played a central role in the search for a peace settlement in Ireland. He has said many times that a democratic peace settlement is his personal and political priority.

``It is also worth noting that the Sinn Fein party, which Mr. Adams leads, secured 15.5% of the vote in the last election, is the largest single party in Belfast, and received more votes than the combined vote of five of the parties currently taking part in talks with the British and Irish governments.

``Gerry Adams, whose book has been Number 1 in the Irish best selling lists for the past six weeks, had been invited by his publisher to travel to Australia to launch and promote his autobiography in several major cities.

``We are aware that the British government lobbied extensively against Mr. Adams trip. It demonstrated, by the recent furore created during his visit to London, that the British government is afraid of books and of free exchange of information and regrettably for all of us who are seeking a real peace settlement in Ireland, appears unable to move beyond the old and failed agenda of the past.

``It is regrettable that on this occasion the Australian government has chosen to set aside its world-renowned record of upholding human rights and its support for freedom of expression and peace processes in other conflict situations.

``This decision is not a denial of Gerry Adams rights but a denial of the rights of those Australians who invited him and those many others who wanted to see and hear him. It is the people of Australia who have been denied the right to make up their own minds about Gerry Adams. I would still hope that on reflection the Australia government will reconsider this decision.

``For our part, Sinn Fein's commitment is to pursue with all our vigour the goal of a lasting peace in Ireland. Our objective is for an agreement that will earn the allegiance of all sections of our people.

``Several weeks ago when the Middle East was convulsed in conflict governments around the world, including the Australian government, rightly urged the participants to talk to each other. Dialogue is central to conflict resolution and the international community can play a critical role in helping to find a peaceful resolution of the Anglo-Irish conflict by similarly encouraging and facilitating such dialogue.''

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