Adams says potential for peace remains

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The Independent Online
GERRY ADAMS, the Sinn Fein president, yesterday maintained that the peace process could still bear fruit and confirmed his willingness to participate in it, but reiterated his demand for clarification of the joint declaration.

In his first full-length interview on RTE, Irish state radio, since censorship was relaxed last week, he said: 'I think the potential for peace is still there.'

His assertion was echoed by John Hume, the leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, who said he believed the IRA was still considering its response.

But Cardinal Cahal Daly, the Primate of All Ireland, warned the IRA not to play politics with peace, saying that the demands for clarification must be genuine and not merely a negotiating tactic.

During the interview on RTE, Mr Adams rejected suggestions by Seamus Mallon, SDLP deputy leader, that there was no significant difference between the Hume-Adams peace initiative and the Downing Street declaration.

Mr Adams said he wanted to be convinced on Britain's willingness to be persuaders towards a new accommodation between the communities and on its commitment to self-determination.

He insisted that 'from any democratic position, the British government has no right to any say in how the people of the 32 counties of this country exercise our right to decide our own future. That is bedrock.'

For the British 'to address that then to appear to be qualifying it so heavily' required clarification, he said. But he added: 'Notwithstanding the difference (of interpretation) we must move to bridge the difference.' He also said it was bizarre that last summer when there was no settlement at hand the British had offered Sinn Fein clarification, but now when a settlement was possible they refused.

Mr Adams said the two prime ministers' own understanding of what the declaration entailed was 'crucial'. He questioned how the process could begin under British insistence on a 12-week 'decontamination period' for republicans, after which the IRA would have to hand over their its arms.

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