PROCESS IN 'DEEP CRISIS' - ADAMS
* Talks to go on despite SF fury over IMC report
The review of the Good Friday Agreement will reconvene in Belfast
on Tuesday as fresh efforts are being made to continue peace
efforts following the devastating report of the Independent
Monitoring Commission on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams led a party delegation
in a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair today.
"The political process in Ireland is in deep crisis," said Mr
Adams, who said the discussion was "very frank". He said they
had told the British Prime Minister that "we totally and
absolutely reject and resent the effort by the two governments to
penalise and discriminate against our party through the IMC
In relation to current difficulties in the peace process, Mr.
Adams said "The cancellation of talks planned for next week is a
mistake. We have been arguing for a short sharp focused approach
and in our view there is now going to be a period of intense
contact between us on all of these matters."
"But no government is infallible and its actions and inactions
can make a bad situation worse. In our view the peace process is
at that point.
"It may be that other government priorities have contributed to a
lack of focus. It may be that both governments are busy on other
"Whatever the case there can be nothing more important than
completing the peace process. We have not lost our commitment.
But others have to keep both their focus and commitments."
On this issue of the IMC, Mr Adams said, he believed there was
"profound disagreement" between his party and the British Prime
He added: "Those who think that imposing penalties or sanctions
is any help in the process are either just totally and absolutely
thick, don't care, have learnt nothing of how this process was
put together, are not watching what is happening in the Middle
East or other conflict situations."
Mr Adams said his party would send representatives to the
forthcoming review of the Good Friday Agreement.
But he added: "The review is about housekeeping. It will not
resolve these issues. The issues will only be resolved by getting
back to the situation where there is a sustainable process of
change, where people have some confidence that politics is
working, and where all of us treat each other with respect and
under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement."
Last night, Blair insisted that Sinn Fein must end any
paramilitary connection if it aspires to government. He defended
the commission and claimed the IRA was the sole block to a return
The IMC recommended financial penalties against Sinn Fein and the
Progressive Unionist Party because of IRA and UVF activity,
respectively. A clearly dissatisfied Mr Adams yesterday described
the four-member IMC as "a collection of spies, spooks, retired
civil servants and failed politicians".
Mr Blair, however, said the IMC would have significant future
involvement in the political process.
"It is going to play a central role because people in Northern
Ireland, and indeed in the Republic of Ireland, can see the full
extent of paramilitary activity and can recognise therefore the
justice of the demand being made by the British and Irish
governments, and all the other political parties in Northern
Ireland, that anybody who wants to be a part of the government of
Northern Ireland has to be clean from any association with
paramilitary activity of whatever sort."
Mr Adams has directed most of his anger at the Dublin government.
"There are some who think that there is a case of going with the
flow on these matters. It is not. It is a matter of political
principle. And for that reason I have been publicly very, very
critical of the Irish Government," he said.
He added that the defence of the IMC report by the nationalist
SDLP was "disgraceful, as are that party leadership's assurances
to Mr Blair that Tuesday's publication of the report 'had the
potential to be a good day for the peace process'".
Despite Sinn Fein's fury, Irish and British officials have been
looking at the bright side.
Following a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental
Conference on Wednesday, British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy claimed
that "the governments are not standing still, the process is not
Dublin's minister for foreign affairs, Brian Cowen, also said
both governments were committed to "driving forward" the Good
In a joint communique the governments said they had reviewed
political developments including the publication of the IMC
The statement emphasised that "the political process cannot
flourish while the threat of paramilitarism persists and that
stable politics in Northern Ireland requires the completion of
the transition to exclusively peaceful and democratic means".