Response by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to today's remarks by the Sinn Féin President
I warmly welcome the statement by the Sinn Féin President, Mr Gerry Adams in West Belfast this evening. Mr Adams' remarks are very encouraging and offer the hope that it may now, at last, be possible to break the impasse which has thus far frustrated the achievement of the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
All of the parties to the Good Friday Agreement agreed to use whatever influence they may have to achieve decommissioning by the paramilitary organisations. Mr Adams statement this evening clearly demonstrates that Sinn Féin is fulfilling this obligation. I commend him, Martin McGuinness and their colleagues for this exercise in leadership and very much hope that the IRA and, indeed, the loyalist paramilitaries will now positively respond to this political initiative.
The Government has long recognised that putting arms beyond use is an indispensable element of the Agreement. At the same time, the implementation of the outstanding aspects of the Agreement cannot be reduced to a single item agenda. Our attention over the next few days and weeks must be focussed on implementing all aspects, including putting arms beyond use and ensuring the stability and inclusivity of the institutions, as provided for in the two Governments' package of proposals following Weston Park.
The two Governments' proposals at Weston Park remain the template for progress; Mr Adams' statement provides much needed momentum; and all parties must now seize the opportunity to implement all aspects of the Agreement and recapture the vision of hope and generosity represented by Good Friday 1998. Everyone must meet their respective responsibilities at this critical juncture.