ADAMS BACKS NON-VIOLENCE
Sinn Fein President has described his appeal to the Provisional
IRA last week to commit itself to purely political and democratic
activity as an attempt to break the "downward spiral" of the
peace process and "create the right political context".
Speaking in Derry today, Mr Adams expanded on his historic appeal
for an end to armed struggle which he said was "aimed directly at
IRA Volunteers and the IRA support base".
"The logic is straight-forward," he said.
"The IRA is being used as the excuse to delay the process of
building peace with justice on this island.
"Furthermore, unless there is bold and decisive action the peace
process is going backwards. Who do we expect to take such bold
and decisive action? Ian Paisley? David Trimble? Paul Murphy?
"The downward spiral of the peace process is not in the interests
of the majority of people on this island.
"It is therefore not in the interests of republicans. It is not
in the interests, in my opinion, of the IRA."
Mr Adams address was welcomed by political and church leaders in
Ireland, Europe and the U.S. In an initial response, the IRA said
it would give Adams' call "due consideration."
The IRA has substantially disarmed in recent years but has
rejected calls for it to disband or stand down, pointing to the
failure of the Dublin and London governments to abide by the 1998
Good Friday Agreement.
It had been reported that a decision by the IRA on Mr Adams's
appeal could be expected within weeks.
However, Mr Adams told journalists in Derry today that he believed
the process could take longer.
"I have to say that in my opinion, it is not likely that the
IRA's process can conclude as hastily as that. Not if there is
going to be a proper inclusive debate, with the possibility of
the response that I am looking for."
The Catholic Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Sean Brady described
Mr Adams's address as helpful and very significant.
A spokesman for the administration of the US President, Richard
Boucher, said it was encouraged, although he added that it is
waiting for concrete action in the form of an IRA response.
US Congressman Peter King said he believed the IRA could now wind
"In terms of Irish history this is certainly an enormous
statement, the fact that he's asking the IRA to stand down. When
you look at this ... in the full context of history it's a very,
very dramatic step forward.
Mr Adams has again rejected suggestions that Sinn Féin is merely
engaged in a pre-election media stunt.
It was an attempt to create conditions where there can be proper
engagement. This is about leadership. It is about trying to give
leadership in difficult circumstances.
The atmosphere was getting poisonous for the last few months. If
things remained where they were, things were going to get more
and more poisonous.
If the situation had continued without an initiative like this,
I think the whole thing would just have gone down the tubes in
the months ahead and I could not, as part of a leadership, allow
that to happen, Mr Adams said.
Referring to the initiative as a very sensitive and delicate
part in this new phase in the process, Mr Adams admitted that
many republicans will have difficulties with the development.
This is going to be a very difficult discussion for republicans
to engage in, and dont think for one moment that when I made my
remarks republicans were jumping up and down in front of their
television screens and shouting hallelujah, Mr Adams
I want to see people take ownership of this debate.
This is a very, very difficult issue for people to come to terms
with and they have to be given the space, he said.
Mr Adams also repeated his insistence that a viable, non-violent
political alternative now exists to replace armed struggle.
I was one of those people who always argued for an alternative
and who defended, when there was a need to defend, armed
It is now my view that there is an alternative. There is a
change in the confidence of nationalist and republican people
throughout this entire island.
There is, for the first time since the 1920s, a viable Sinn Féin
structure throughout the entire island. There is an all-Ireland
The Good Friday Agreement essentially is an accommodation within
an all-Ireland context, so all of those issues need to be driven
The way forward is the way that I outlined. Those of us who want
this to work have a duty to take risks for peace and to try and
give others from opposite political views the opportunity to work
with us in the time ahead. I have set out the course of action
that we want people to take and Im not going to unsay that,