[Sinn Fein]

8 November 1998

Blair must take up challenge of Unionist go-slow

Sinn Fein President Gery Adams MP will tomorrow meet with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London.

Speaking today, Mr Adams said:

``I requested this meeting with Mr Blair in order to impress upon him my strongly held view that he must now take up the challenge posed by mr Trimble's stalling of the peace procss, and pro-actively seek to advance the establishment of the Executive, the all-Ireland Ministerial Council and the policy and implementation bodies''.

The Sinn Fein President also intends to raise with the British Prime Minister the party's concerns that:

Mr. Adams said:

``One deadline, October 31st, has been missed as a consequence of the Unionist efforts to force a renegotiation of the Good Fiday Agreement. We are now rapidly approaching a second and equally important point in the time-table for the implementation of the major provisions of the Agremeent and in particular, the setting up of the institutions. The legislative time-table is under threat.

``Failure to agree the all-Ireland Ministrial Council and the policy and implementation bodies puts at risk the institutions which are the foundation stones of the Agreement. More importantly, this puts an enormous question mark over the constitutional elements of the Agreement being in place by next May. If that deadline is missed then there is no Agreement.

``Anyone expecting unionists to do a deal with nationalism will wait a long time. That is the lesson of the Good Friday Agreement. In the final days of that negotiation last April it required the direct involvements of the Taoiseah Mr Ahern, the British Prime Minister Mr Blair and the US President Bill Clinton to secure the Agreement. We need that engagement again. We especially need Mr Blair to get directly involved and to make clear to Mr Trimble and his colleagues that while we want their participation, progress will continue with or without them.

``Downing Steeet advisers may feel that the Prime Minister should not get involved until a solution of these problems is in sight, but unless Mr Blair does so the unionists will have no incentive to stop their go-slow.''

The Sinn Fein leader also intends raising the party's concerns about the `Northern Ireland' Bill. Mr Adams said:

``There is a need to address the deficiencies in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities clauses of the `Northern Ireland' Bill.

``Specifically, the Human Rights Commission needs to have the full and effective powers of investigation which such a body requires if it is to be empowered to fulfil the role defined for it under the Good Friday Agreement. Moreover, under the Equality section the Bill needs to make adequate provision for policy appraisal, impact assessment and consultation; it should provide for affirmative action measures taken by public authorities to tackle the disadvantages from which particular groups, such as women and the disabled suffer, and the Bill should contain provision for addressing the issue of symbols and emblems, as well as making clear provision for the Irish language.''

The Sinn Fein President will also speak to Mr Blair about the decision to allow the two soliders who killed Peter McBride back into the British Army. Mr Adams will give the British Prime Minister a file on this matter and will ask him to reverse the decision by the British Ministry of Defence Army Board.

Mr Adams said:

``This is an important case. It reflects an ethos within the Britsh Military and intelligence forces for over 30 years which has seen those forces kill, torture and wreck with impunity, knowing that these actions will be defended and those responsible for human rights violations protected. The British government cannot pursue dictators like Pinochet, while ignoring their own history of human rights violations, and not expect to be accused of hypocrisy and dpouble standards. The McBride family expect and deserve justice.''

Finally, Mr Adams will focus on ``the continuing high levels of harassment of local people living in South Armagh, County Tyrone and other parts of the north by the British Army and RUC. This behaviour undermines all our efforts to advance the peace process and cannot be blamed on intransigent unionism. However, it can be laid at the door of intransigent securocrats who are still working hard to subvert the peace process.''

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