Sinn Fein extends cautious welcome to summit outcome

 

SINN Fein has extended a cautious welcome to the Anglo Irish communique. But it was too early to say if the package was sufficient for the party to go to the IRA and request a restoration of the ceasefire, said ardchomhairle member Mr Martin McGuinness.

SDLP leader Mr John Hume also welcomed the June 10th deadline for all party talks set by the Taoiseach and Mr John Major at the London summit yesterday.

Mr McGuinness, like the party president Mr Gerry Adams, gave a "cautious welcome" to the fixed date for talks which were an "essential element in any peace process".

Both men focused on the need for clarification of elements of the summit proposals. In particular, Mr McGuinness was concerned that unionists might use the election to "frustrate and stall" the peace process.

During interviews he refused to state whether Sinn Fein might call on the IRA to reinstate its ceasefire. But he did say it should not take long for the party to get the clarification it required.

"If we have a specific date which we appear to have for all party negotiations to take place without preconditions, then Sinn Fein is prepared to do everything in its power to bring about the peaceful environment which we all know is required to move this situation forward," he said.

That included the possibility of going back to the IRA to seek a reinstatement of the ceasefire.

Mr Adams gave a "cautious welcome" to the set date for talks but said more clarity was needed about the overall proposals.

Republicans were "concerned", he added, that the unionist proposal of an election "as a precondition to dialogue" had been accepted. He repeated that Sinn Fein was prepared to take risks for peace.

"Everyone must be prepared to take risks in our collective effort to put the peace process back on the tracks," said Mr Adams.

"This has been the Sinn Fein attitude to each evolving stage of the process. We will approach the proposals outlined by the two governments in the same manner," he said.

He complained that Sinn Fein was to be "excluded" from the consultation phase. Sinn Fein members will be allowed contact with British officials but not British ministers because of the collapse of the IRA ceasefire.

Mr Adams concluded "It would be remiss of me if I did not point out the enormous difficulties which we all face in rebuilding a peace process which can inspire confidence against a background of 18 months of bad faith and stalling," he said.

Mr Home, while reserving more definitive reaction until he had read the full communique, welcomed the fixed date.

"Something very firm appears to have emerged in the form of a fixed date for all party talks. I think that is central to the peace process, and I hope that we can get a situation where we can get all parties to the table in a totally peaceful atmosphere," he said.

Mr Hume said it was common sense that a lasting agreement could only be achieved through substantive negotiations.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party, the political wing of the INLA, also welcomed the date but remained resolutely opposed to elections which would simply be a "sectarian head count".

Mr Ruairi O Bradaigh, president of Republican Sinn Fein, said the summit proposals would not provide a permanent peace. "The British are not setting about winding down their operation in Ireland for good and this being the case, further resistance to British rule here is inevitable in the future," he added.

The Workers' Party and Democratic Left in the North welcomed the proposals.