AGREEMENT 'NOT DEAD' - ADAMS
Nationalists have denied claims last week from DUP leader Ian
Paisley that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement is dead and should
be given a decent burial.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has urged the Dublin and London
governments to defend the Agreement's plan for a local, devolved
power-sharing administration in the North of Ireland.
The 1998 accord was the high point of a talks process which saw
the Provisional IRA end its armed struggle against British rule
in the North of Ireland. While the IRA is currently debating an
appeal by Sinn Fein to wind up, Paisley's party is calling for
direct British rule to be made more accountable to local
politicians through a restored Belfast Assembly.
An attempt last year by Mr Blair and Mr Ahern to secure a deal
involving the DUP and Sinn Fein collapsed when the DUP demanded
'humiliation' photographs of IRA weapons being destroyed.
Last week, following talks with British Prime Minister Tony
Blair on Thursday evening, Paisley ruled out a return to
power-sharing and declared the Good Friday Agreement dead.
"I think it should be given a reasonable burial," he declared.
He told reporters: "It never had the support from the unionist
community it ought to have had to make it stick.
"The Prime Minister agreed with us it must be a new beginning.
You just cannot go back and do the same thing over and over
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said after separate discussions
with Mr Blair that the agreement still stood and was "not
The 26-County Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, rejected
Paisley's comments and warned that the Agreement must not be
Mr Ahern said the agreement was reviewed for most of 2004 with
political parties in the North and was accepted by the DUP
before the aborted power-sharing deal last December.
"We've had the review and the review is finished," Mr Ahern
after attending the seventh British-Irish Council summit on the
Isle of Man yesterday.
"We respect the good relationships we have built up with
unionism. But the basis for moving forward is with the Good
Today, Mr Adams also pointed out that in last year's
negotiations the DUP had accepted the fundamentals of the
Agreement were essential, albeit reluctantly.
"The reality, acknowledged by the Taoiseach (26-County Prime
Minister Bertie Ahern) on Friday, is that any move forward in
this post-election period has to be bedded in the Good Friday
Agreement and in the acceptance by the DUP of the Agreement's
core principles," the West Belfast MP said.
"These include power-sharing government on the basis of the
d'Hondt formula; working with Sinn Fein in the Executive and in
the joint office of the First and Deputy First Ministers; full
participation in the other institutions established under the
Good Friday Agreement including the all-Ireland Ministerial
Council; the transfer of powers on policing and justice to the
Executive; developing the all-Ireland institutions; accepting
the need for equality and human rights; measures to counter
sectarianism and racism; using their influence to remove all
guns from society, including the weapons of Ulster Resistance.
"There is now an unprecedented opportunity to move forward. But
this can only be achieved on the basis of equality, inclusion
and mutual respect.
"The DUP can be part of the process of change or they can opt
out. But they cannot veto progress. If they do not come on
board, then the responsibility falls to the two governments to
make progress with the parties who are committed to the
Agreement and to moving forward in partnership and