Adams warns against delays in implementing NI agreement

 

There would be an "erosion of confidence" in the peace process if the shadow executive and the North-South bodies were not established by the end of this month, the Sinn Fein president, Mr Gerry Adams, warned in Belfast yesterday.

Commenting on a suggestion from Mr David Trimble that the executive did not need to be set up until February, he said: "He's wrong, because the date was agreed."

He told reporters the current impasse in the process could be bridged. "It's a matter whether the political will is there to do that."

He continued: "There's a question-mark starting to come into focus over David Trimble's commitment to this agreement." He had no doubt the UUP leader "wants to do a deal but he's actually trying to renegotiate the deal which we have already done".

He added: "We spent an awful lot of time negotiating and the Good Friday agreement came after years of work."

Asked about the likely impact if the executive and the North-South ministerial council failed to meet by October 31st, Mr Adams said: "There are certainly going to be a lot of people losing confidence in what they support and what they voted for. I have always said that the referendum was more important than the agreement because the referendum was the people saying `This is what we want'."

The current difficulty would be "sorted out by the British Prime Minister defending and promoting and implementing the agreement and by making it clear to everyone that the commitments which were given on Good Friday have to be delivered".

When asked if the British and Irish governments should move to set up the executive, Mr Adams said: "It's the responsibility of both governments, particularly the British government, and all the parties, to implement this agreement."

He said it was "a bit bizarre and surreal" how political figures were telling him at meetings: "There's a crisis and I will see you in a fortnight." People should get around the table and stay there until the crisis was resolved.

"There's a certain amount of playing for time here, of delaying, of minimising, of dragging out, and I think all of that isn't good," Mr Adams said.

Seven more republican prisoners were freed from the Maze Prison yesterday. The latest releases, which include one life sentence prisoner and several serving long terms, bring the number freed under the terms of the Belfast Agreement to 77.