The Journal of History     Winter 2004    TABLE OF CONTENTS

Tony Blair Must Engage - Adams, IRA

Author Unknown
Originally published between December 29, 2000 and January 1, 2001

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said that the London government has the power in its hands to resolve the issues confronting the peace process.

But this will involve challenging the British militarists and securocrats who have been resurgent in recent months, he added.

Republicans remain disappointed with the lack of movement on the issues central to the present crisis and the inaction of Northern Secretary Peter Mandelson.

Mr Adams pointed out the British Army had yet to fulfill its commitment to demilitarisation in south Armagh and he strongly criticised Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble's ban on Sinn Fein members attending north-south ministerial meetings.

"Peter Mandelson intervened last February to collapse the institutions. He intervened on the issue of flags flying on designated days and the flying of other flags.

"However, he won't intervene with the first minister to hold his pledge of office," he said.

Trimble's ban is the subject of a judicial review, a ruling on which should be forthcoming this week.

Mr Adams said the two governments needed to reach a compromise on demilitarisation in south Armagh.

While the IRA could put hand on heart and say it had fulfilled its committment to the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Adams said, the same could not be said by the British government.

"It is imperative that the British prime minister take charge. The securocrats have been rehabilitated.

"All the contentious issues involve the British government. The unionists do not control demilitarisation or policing.

"This dispute is with the British government," Mr Adams said.

In its New Year Statement, the IRA accused the British government of failing to seize the opportunity created by its peace initiatives.

And in a direct reference to the issue of arms decommissioning, the IRA said it was committed to seeking a resolution of the issue, but said this could not happen until the British Prime Minister "takes political responsibility for it."

The British and Irish governments are planning to meet the leaders of the North's political parties within the next two weeks in an attempt to avert the collapse of the Northern Executive.

Senior government officials in London and Dublin will review progress on outstanding issues, including decommissioning, this week. They will then hold talks with the Ulster Unionists, SDLP and Sinn Fein. Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern will join the discussions if they believe a breakthrough is possible.

Ulster Unionists are threatening a series of sanctions, including a withdrawal from the Executive, unless the IRA makes further moves on arms decommissioning. The party's ruling council is to review the state of IRA decommissioning by the end of January and make a judgement on the party's continued participation in the new political structures.

Meanwhile, a deadlock is building over policing. British officials are not publishing a revised implementation plan for policing reform in the absence of nationalist support.

Although 49 candidates have been interviewed for nine places on the new policing board, nationalists have declined to be nominated unless assurances on the scrapping of the notorious Special Branch and other contentious issues continue. The new board must be created in shadow form by the end of January in order to oversee the reforms, and to take what will be controversial decisions about the new force's uniform and insignia.

A programme of change is supposed to get under way soon so that the new police service can come into being on September 1 as scheduled.

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The Journal of History - Winter 2004 Copyright © 2004 by News Source, Inc.