Sinn Fein expected to reaffirm peace commitment

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The Independent Online

Sinn Fein are expected to spell out an unwavering commitment to the Northern Ireland peace process when the party's policy-makers meet in Dublin tonight.

Sinn Fein are expected to spell out an unwavering commitment to the Northern Ireland peace process when the party's policy-makers meet in Dublin tonight.

Leader Gerry Adams will deliver the keynote address as Sinn Fein's Ard Comhairle - national executive - and their elected representatives get together at a hotel a short distance from the parliamentary headquarters in the Irish capital's city centre.

It will mark the executive's first meeting since last week's historic set of developments in Belfast put implementation of last year's Good Friday Ulster accord within tantalising reach.

Since then, senior Sinn Fein figures Martin Ferris and Pat Doherty have muddied the waters by appearing, during visits to the United States, to raise doubts over the issue central to the prospects for meaningful peace process advances - the decommissioning of arms held by the party's IRA allies and other paramilitary organisations.

In an indication of Sinn Fein's intent to turn the hopes of progress into a definite breakthrough, Mr Adams acted swiftly to reaffirm that he and his followers were not deviating from any of the positions agreed last week.

And he is likely to spell out that position once more in Dublin. According to a party spokesman, delegates will tonight discuss the current political situation generated by events in Belfast.

Sources also forecast a series of "frank exchanges." But in the current circumstances, observers believe it would be surprising if Mr Adams failed to deliver a mainly conciliatory speech.

And ironically, even though it is a Sinn Fein occasion, he may well gear his address to doing as much as possible to aid the cause of Ulster Unionist chief and Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble, who faces the herculean task of persuading his party council to accept the latest peace process package at a crucial meeting this weekend.

Ahead of tonight's meeting, Sinn Fein were today presenting a submission for Irish Finance Minister Charles McCreevy to study ahead of his budget statement to the Dail next week.

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