30/04/2003

Adams declares IRA will not 'undermine' peace process

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has today moved to clarify the IRA's intentions, saying that the paramilitary group would not engage in any activities that will "undermine the peace process".

His statement was in response to questions posed by Prime Minister Tony Blair last Wednesday demanding clarification on the IRA's position.

Previously, Mr Adams had said that "there should be no activities inconsistent" with the Good Friday Agreement. However, Mr Blair said this was not definitive.

But Mr Adams today said he was happy to clear up the wording Mr Blair was looking for.

He said: "Last Sunday I made a lengthy statement about the future of the peace process which has been widely welcomed. In the course of my statement I answered three questions raised by the British Prime Minister.

"It is my belief that all three questions were answered fully. However, the Taoiseach, the British Prime Minister and others have queried my answer about alleged IRA activities.

"I want now in the interests of moving matters forward to eliminate any doubt which might exist in that regard.

"The IRA leadership makes it clear in its statement that it is determined that its activities will be consistent with its resolve to see the complete and final closure of the conflict.

"The IRA leadership is determined that there will be no activities which will undermine in any way the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement."

Mr Adams said the IRA statement was one of "peaceful intent" and that both governments had already acknowledged this.

However, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said Mr Adams's statement was still not enough to move the process forward.

He said: "It would be so easy for Mr Adams, when asked is there going to be an end to all paramilitary activity, it would be so easy for him to say 'yes'.

"The fact that at the second or third time of asking he has been unable to give a clear answer on this is illustrative of the underlying position.

"The comments from Mr Adams are operating against a certain bedrock and the bedrock is the IRA statement which has not yet been published."

DUP North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds also hit out at Mr Adams statement.

“A qualified clarification of Tony Blair’s three meaningless questions does not move us one iota closer to the day when Sinn Fein enters the democratic process," he said.

"Gerry Adams’ statement is yet more hollow words which have had to be dragged out of the man who told us he was never in the IRA."

Mr Dodds claimed the statement was a cynical election stunt which would fool no sensible unionist in Northern Ireland.

(MB)

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