Adams tells US his price: Sinn Fein leader delivers muddled message about clarification of Downing Street Declaration as Hurd accuses media of distortion

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The Independent Online
GERRY ADAMS, the Sinn Fein president, spelt out for the first time yesterday what he wants to know about the Downing Street Declaration before he will join talks over a peace settlement in Ulster. It was a scoop for America to put him on the air waves, a propaganda coup for Mr Adams, but a less than clarifying experience.

In a sombre speech to a private foreign policy group - the centrepiece of his 48-hour stay in New York - Mr Adams called on the British and Irish governments to clarify several points under the general headings of 'aspects of the Declaration itself, statements made by the Prime Minister, John Major, and by the Irish Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, which seem to contradict each other, and how the peace process would be moved forward.'

Examples included the following, Mr Adams said. 'The Dublin government raises the issue of political prisoners and says there should be an amnesty as part of the settlement. Downing Street says no. Downing Street also dismisses Mr Reynolds' suggestion about demilitarising the situation.'

The first part of the declaration is described as the governments' 'first step', said Mr Adams. 'But what is their second step? Or the third? What processes are envisioned, what measure to move the situation forward?'

In the clear, steady voice banned from British airwaves, Mr Adams declared: 'If it genuinely wishes to move forward, the first stop for the British government must be an acceptance of its obligation to provide clarification on the Downing Street Declaration. It has already done so for other political parties.'

'I have already said that if there is a gap between what is on offer and what is required to move us out of the conflict, the British government's view on these matters is a crucial one.' He wants London and Dublin to agree on a timetable of 'national determination'.

Throughout television appearances and press conferences, Mr Adams said repeatedly he wanted to 'go the extra mile' with Downing Street to assist the peace process, but said he had not called on the IRA to end its violent campaign. He said only that he wanted 'to take the gun out of Irish politics' and that he wants 'to see an end to all violence' - that means sending the British Army home first.

Mr Adams said: 'There is an urgent need to break the current deadlock . . . the US government can play a significant and positive role in encouraging the peace process by helping to create a climate which moves the situation on.'

Amid signs of deep British government unease over Mr Adams's coast-to-coast media coverage in the US, Downing Street made it clear that if the IRA did not agree to end the violence it would strongly oppose his receiving a visa in future.

In Washington, Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, accused the US press of distorting the facts about Ulster in its massive media coverage of the Adams visit which has eclipsed his own stay.

Sinn Fein, he emphasised, did not have a majority in the province - 'though reading the papers, you might think that fact is not always understood. But 10 per cent is not a winning hand.'

Mr Hurd said that an end to violence was an 'absolute precondition' to Sinn Fein taking part in talks on the province's future.

Mr Hurd said his talks with Warren Christopher, the Secretary of State, and other top US officials had only underlined Washington's backing for the Downing Street Declaration of last December. His irritation that the visa ('a purely American decision') had been granted, allowing Mr Adams and his cause a publicity bonanza, was unmistakable.

There has been widespread US ridicule over the broadcasting ban on Mr Adams, with actors being used to speak his words.

TV gag lifted, page 3

Adams's fast footwork, page 17

(Photograph omitted)

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