ADAMS CONCERN AT TALKS FAILURE
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has expressed concern about the
handling of the political process since the failure of last
week's intensive talks to reach a deal.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Irish Prime Minister,
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, claimed at the end of the talks that
they believed that they had achieved a breakthrough in their
efforts to disarm the IRA and terminate its activity.
However, Ian Paisley's DUP has sought deep changes to the
troubled 1998 Good Friday Agreement to again give unionists an
advantage in a devolved Belfast administration.
Sinn Fein has expressed frustration at the failure of a major
IRA concession to secure a deal for the return of the Belfast
Meanwhile, the nationalist SDLP has urged the governments to
"call the DUP's bluff" by recalling the Assembly.
"The governments should recall the Assembly and end suspension
now. Then we can see who is for real and who is really causing
the problems, said Mark Durkan, who was visiting the annual
British Labour Party Conference in Brighton.
"What we need is not a change in the agreement but a change in
the DUP's attitude.
"The SDLP recognises that the DUP have a significant mandate.
But the governments have to show to them that the agreement has
a far bigger one. The governments have to put a stop to the
DUP's stand-and-deliver tactics on the agreement," he said.
Durkan's appeal was echoed by Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams,
who declared that the formal review of the Good Friday Agreement
was now at an end.
He said the "pandering to the DUP and its intransigence" needed
to end and the political process had to move on.
Speaking at a press briefing in west Belfast, Mr Adams said the
momentum created in last week's negotiations at a picturesque
moated castle in southern England had not been built upon.
He recalled that previously there had been talk from Downing
Street about trains leaving stations and last chance saloons.
"It is over a week since we were in Leeds Castle," he said.
think it must be clear to everyone that the review has run its
course. The DUP have failed to win any of the pro-agreement
parties over to its anti-agreement position. And it is time to
Asked what he meant by moving on, Mr Adams replied: "Those of us
who are pro-agreement and the two governments need to make
"A head of steam had been built up and there was the possibility
of moving things forward, but the DUP said no. I don't think
this is good enough.
"We should move on until they are prepared to engage properly.
Remember the DUP won't talk to Sinn Fein. They talk about a new
confident unionism, but how confident are they that they won't
even talk to republicans?"
Mr Adams claimed the British government had wrongly believed
that the DUP would settle for cosmetic changes to the Good
Friday Agreement as a face-saving measure.
"The British government need to face up to reality," he said.
"The buzz was about presenting the DUP with a fig-leaf. They
have had all this time to sort this out and have not done it."
"Why should any of us who are in the majority in this island,
who want change, who want equality, who want to work with
others, who recognise other peoples mandates... why should we
have to wait?"
He suggested that on several issues whether it be equality,
human rights, demilitarisation, and justice then the governments
should move ahead and make it clear to the DUP that the Good
Friday agreement was going to prevail.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness speaking
at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Brighton
said they were determined to unblock the political impasse that
But Mr McGuinness said this cannot be done at the expense of the
core principles of the Good Friday agreement.
"The power sharing arrangements so delicately constructed in the
agreement are a unique arrangement designed to deal with the
abnormal political entity that is the north of Ireland.
"We can obviously consider improvements to the effectiveness,
efficiency and accountability of the political institutions but
the core principle of powersharing will not be diluted. There
will be no return to unionist rule," Mr McGuinness said.
PAISLEY IN DUBLIN TALKS
Meanwhile, it was confirmed today that Dr Paisley is to hold his
first political talks with Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern in Dublin later this week.
It was confirmed today that meeting would go ahead on Thursday,
and that the DUP delegation would likely include deputy leader
Although Dr Paisley previously met Mr Ahern in his capacity as
the Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, it is the first
time the veteran leader of the DUP has attended political talks
in the 26-County capital.
Sinn Fein today called on him to hold direct talks with
republicans, something which he has always refused to do.
"The message that the DUP is sending out from this meeting is
that they are engaging today with people they refused to talk to
yesterday," said party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin. "Sinn Fein
are the largest nationalist party. If the DUP are to ever share
power then they will have to share power with Sinn Fein.
"It is now time for the DUP to demonstrate to the nationalist
community that they are capable of respecting electoral mandates
and engaging constructively with political opponents. The time
has now come to engage in face to face dialogue with Sinn Fein."