Sanctions still 'a deal-breaker' ahead of new talks
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has repeated that his party is
vehemently opposed that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement should be
modified to include the facility to deny democratic rights or
otherwise 'sanction' certain political parties. The changes are
being sought by the Ulster Unionist Party.
The British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Irish Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern are due back in the north of Ireland next month to
lay before the parties their blueprint for restoring devolution.
Mr Adams is to meet the Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, in Dublin on Monday,
while on the same day in Dublin the Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Mr Cowen, will hold talks with the British Secretary of State, Mr
Paul Murphy, as efforts continue to prepare the ground for
presentation of the British and Irish governments' package to
restore the Executive and Assembly.
Asked was Sinn Fein still holding to its position that the
sanctions element of the package was a "deal-breaker", Mr Adams
He said he had made this point very clear to the British and
Irish governments and the US administration while on his recent
St Patrick's week visit to the US.
He said Sinn Fein was against anyone, particularly governments,
stepping outside the terms of the Good Friday agreement.
"The governments cannot do a deal unless they have all of the
parties on board, and they cannot get all the parties on board by
going outside the terms of the agreement at the whim of one of
The issue of sanctions was still "work in progress" and Sinn
intended to change the governments' position on the matter, Mr
Elections to the Belfast Assembly are scheduled for the end of
May. The pro-Agreement parties are hoping to go the polls with
an agreement to sell on the final anf full implementation of the
Agreement across a range of issues including policing reform,
demilitarisation, justice reform, human rights, language rights
and equality, Speculation continues as to the contents of the
proposed draft document which was not finalised in talks in a
summit talks at Hillsborough Castle outside Belfast earlier this
Mr Adams was in west Belfast yesterday to launch a fund-raising
scheme to build 16 new Irish-language schools in Northern
Ireland. At present 3,000 pupils attend Irish-language schools.
Mr Adams said if 16 schools were created it would establish the
"critical mass" to solidify usage of Irish in the Six Counties.
In relation to the Sinn Fein ard-fheis [annual conference] next
weekend, Mr Adams said he understood there were some motions
hostile and some motions supportive of Sinn Fein joining the new
Policing Board. Without major progress between now and the
ard-fheis Mr Adams said he had no intention of bringing forward a
motion to join the board at the ard-fheis.
"The party would require a special ard-fheis to deal with that
issue," he said.