Category: Archive

S.F. words not enough: Trimble

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Adams was endeavoring to answer questions relating to the IRAs future that were asked earlier this week by the British prime minister, Tony Blair. But the Unionist leader was unhappy with what he sees as continuing ambiguity in Adamss remarks.
This means a breakthrough to restore devolution is virtually impossible before polling day in the Assembly elections on May 29, should the British government decide to go ahead with voting.
The British and Irish governments are insisting in public that the elections will go ahead as planned but are known to be considering another postponement, fearing the Ulster Unionists will be overtaken by the anti-agreement Democratic Unionist Party, led by the Rev. Ian Paisley, if there is no deal agreed between unionists and republicans before polling day.
The latest report is that they may consider delaying the elections by another month, hoping it could give time for a further move from the IRA in time for the UUP to call a meeting of its ruling council to approve a deal by a new polling day at the end of June.
In a response to the Sinn Fein statement, the UUP leader said the IRA “still wanted to have it both ways” and, echoing British government concerns, argued that Adams had not dealt satisfactorily with the question of “ongoing paramilitary activity.”
In a week of high drama and intense behind-the-scenes negotiations, Stormont became the venue on Sunday afternoon for the Sinn Fein statement, which sought to interpret and explain the IRA’s intentions on its ceasefire.
Adams revealed that the IRA had decided to offer a third act of decommissioning, even before the democratic institutions set up under the Good Friday agreement had been restored, but that this had been dismissed by the UUP.
After the Adams statement, a UUP spokesman rejected it almost immediately as inadequate as it “fell far short” of what was required and “provided no basis” for a return to power-sharing with Sinn Fein.
In his statement, Adams attempted to give a response to three questions posed by Tony Blair about the IRA’s future. He said it was his view that its statement — passed confidentially two weeks ago to London and Dublin — was “of completely peaceful intent.”
Blair had asked first whether activities inconsistent with the Good Friday agreement, such as targeting, procurement of weapons, punishment beatings and so forth, were at an end.
Second, he had asked whether the IRA’s commitment was to put all arms beyond use, and third, whether the British/Irish Joint Declaration on implementing the agreement would bring “complete and final closure” of the IRA campaign.
Adams replied: “Firstly. the IRA leadership has stated its determination to ensure that its activities will be consistent with its resolve to see the complete and final closure of the conflict.”
In particular, he said, recent allegations of IRA activity had been raised with its leadership. “Any such activities which in any way undermine the peace process and agreement should not be happening,” Adams said.
“Secondly, he continued, the IRA has clearly stated its willingness to proceed with the implementation of a process to put arms beyond use at the earliest opportunity. Obviously this is not about putting some arms beyond use. It is about all arms.
“Thirdly, if the two governments and all the parties fulfill their commitments this will provide the basis for the complete and final closure of the conflict.
“My understanding is that all of this is still doable at this time if there is a positive response from the two governments and Mr. Trimble,” he said, adding that there was “considerable unease” within the republican activist base.
“I believe that the IRA statement, unmatched by any from the IRA leadership in this or indeed any other phase of their struggle, points the way forward. Now the two governments and the leadership of the UUP have to make a choice.”
The Irish government responded positively to the speech, saying it represented a positive and significant response and that a solution to the current impasse was “close.”
The British government welcomed it also, although adding that Adams should have said paramilitary activity “would” not be happening, “should not be happening.” Blair said Trimble was correct to take issue with this part of the Adams’ statement.

Considered response
The Ulster Unionists, however, said the statement would not be enough to have the suspension of the power-sharing executive and Assembly lifted. “Having seen the details, it falls short of what is required. It must be borne in mind that this was a statement by Gerry Adams and not the IRA.”
On Monday, Trimble gave his considered response at a news conference in Belfast. He said the British, Irish and American governments all agreed that there can be no room in government for any party that has a private army.
“The prime minister has set out his position, Trimble said. He wanted ‘acts of completion,’ and no inch-by-inch or incremental negotiations. Last week, having had sight of an IRA statement, Blair was asking questions because the statement from republicans lacked clarity and certainty.
“Mr. Adams purported to respond to those questions yesterday. Downing Street says that Mr. Adams answered two of these questions, but not one relating to ongoing paramilitary activity.
“As he has told us on numerous occasions, Mr. Adams is not the IRA. The IRA is not bound by anything he might say, as we know from past experience. Mr. Adams also introduced preconditions.
“He claims that a third act of decommissioning has been authorized, but says this is conditional on others, including this party, doing and saying things. This is unacceptable.”

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