Adams urges all party talks to pull peace process "back from abyss"

 

THE Sinn Fein president, Mr Gerry Adams, has urged the British government to pull the peace process "back from the abyss" by starting all party talks immediately.

He was addressing a republican peace rally in west Belfast yesterday. About 3,000 people braved heavy rain to hear Mr Adams state that peace was not possible unless the British government entered the process as a full partner.

He said that Northern nationalists, the Government, and the US must put pressure on the British government to initiate negotiations. "That must be the demand Mr Bruton puts to Mr Major if he wants to be part of rescuing this process," said Mr Adams.

The "biggest single failure" during the IRA's 18 month ceasefire was the British government's refusal to hold all party talks, he added. "At this very dangerous and risky period in our struggle, we offer the hand of friendship to John Major.

"We say to John Major we want to talk and we want peace. But we must have justice and we must have freedom and we must be treated as equals in this situation."

To loud cheers, Mr Adams said that the IRA had not been defeated when it called its ceasefire.

There were two ways of ending a conflict, he stated. One side could seek the defeat of the other, or there could be a democratic resolution with both parties working towards a negotiated settlement. The IRA had offered the second path but the British government had refused to follow, he said.

"The reason they refuse to talk is not just because they're slow learners, although they are. It isn't because some of them are stupid, although obviously they are. It's because of a particular mindset within a certain clique of the British establishment," he said.

"There are people in the British establishment who think they still have a British empire, and they don't. There are people within the British establishment who live on the old memory when Britain ruled most of the world and they colonised this island.

There are people on this island who have colonised minds. There are people in the British establishment who have the minds of the coloniser. We represent a section of people on this island who have never allowed our minds to be colonised."

Republicans would not allow themselves to be demonised and marginalised by the British, Mr Adams said. "We will tell them that we have been down that road, before and there is no going back. We are not going to be held as scapegoats for the stupidity of the British and the intransigence of the unionist leadership."

He compared the present situation to the ending of the first hunger strike in the H blocks 15 years ago when the British government believed that republicans had been weakened.

"But we also say to them, do not treat our hand of friendship as a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. We are going to face the British government with a united republican struggle and with demands for peace talks now, freedom and justice."