08/08/2014

Good Friday Agreement Under Threat - Adams

The Good Friday Agreement is facing its greatest ever challenge, according to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams made the comments in a keynote statement today, when he said the "political process faces its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998."

He talked of the "anti-Good Friday Agreement axis within unionism, the pro-unionist stance of the British secretary of state" and "the refusal of Downing St to honour its own obligations."

Mr Adams said: "The fact is that the anti-agreement axis has been very active in asserting a negative agenda. Too many in the pro-agreement axis, with some notable exceptions, have been passive. This includes the Irish government.

"The DUP has repeatedly demonstrated an unwillingness to participate positively in any of the institutions. Instead it has adopted a tactical approach aimed at serving the political agenda of a fundamentalist rump in their party rather than the needs of the whole community."

Talking of pressure from Downing Street for the Executive to implement welfare reforms, Mr Adams added: "The Tory-led government in London wants to impose changes to the welfare benefits system mirroring similar changes that have been introduced in England, Scotland and Wales - changes that have resulted in disastrous consequences for the disabled, the unemployed and those in low-paid jobs.

"These should be opposed by a united Executive. These changes are not about reform. They are about cuts and they are part of a Thatcherite agenda designed to dismantle the welfare state. And Sinn Féin will oppose them."

The Sinn Féin leader also spoke of recent controversy over a contentious Orange parade through a predominantly nationalist area of north Belfast. A Parades Commission ruling voted to restrict the parade during its homeward leg so that it would not pass by the shop fronts and potentially cause unrest in the area. But unionist leaders and the Orange Order have called for an inquiry into the effectiveness of the Parades Commission.

Mr Adams said: "The British Secretary of State is contemplating conceding to another of the recent unionist demands by setting up some form of inquiry into the Parades Commission decision on the Ardoyne march – a move that would dangerously damage the integrity of the Parades Commission, undermine the residents and further undermine the Haass proposals.

"If the unionist leaderships refuse to engage positively in new negotiations then the Irish and British governments, as co-equal guarantors of the Agreement, must ensure that outstanding issues are implemented."

(IT/JP)

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