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Statement by Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams in New York, 21 October 1999

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Research: Fionnuala McKenna
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Statement issued by the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, at a lunch time meeting in New York, 21 October 1999.

"The hope which many placed in the Good Friday Agreement has not been fulfilled because of a failure to implement the Agreement. I left London yesterday at the end of three days of intense discussions, aimed at ending the crisis created by Unionism's demands on decommissioning.

As all of you are aware, this has been a protracted and deep rooted crisis and it now seems certain to come to a head in the near future.

Sinn Féin has done everything in our power to resolve that crisis and to meet the Unionist terms. We have taken a series of initiatives but sadly and unfortunately none of these have succeeded. The unionists remain implacably wedded to their absolutist demand for IRA decommissioning before they will allow the other elements of the Good Friday Agreement to proceed.

There is a possibility that this crisis could still be averted and that a solution to this problem will be found. That is why Sinn Féin is so determined and thorough-going in our efforts in this review. We go forward in hope and I return to Ireland tomorrow to be immediately involved once again in the talks.

But we have to be realistic as well and the reality is that the Mitchell Review could end in failure. What then ? What then of our vision of a peaceful Ireland ? What then of our hopes for our children ?

Sinn Féin has not been dogmatic on the issue of decommissioning. We have been flexible and imaginative. We have offered the best way forward - the only possible way forward and no one has offered an alternative to our approach.

I believe that I understand the UUP position. I have listened very carefully and respectfully to their views. I believe their position is wrong, that it is outside the Good Friday Agreement, that it is not do-able and that they have handled this matter badly. I know they have problems and I believe the pace on the decommissioning issue is being set by those in Unionism and British Conservatism who are against the Agreement and who, like lemmings, are taking the entire process to the cliff's edge.

I have said many times that David Trimble is the best bet for the peace process. I appreciate how far he has come and the difficulties he has had to deal with. But he must know that all of this will be as nothing if he does not come the extra mile with us towards the prize of a just and lasting peace.

Be assured that Sinn Féin will continue to give moral courage, leadership and responsibility."

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