Ulster breakthrough: `We are entering the final stage of resolving conflict'

SINN FEIN STATEMENT
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The Independent Online
SINN FEIN is totally committed to the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in all its aspects. We believe that the wholehearted implementation of the Agreement has the capacity to transform the existing situation through constructive and dynamic political development.

It is an unprecedented opportunity to start afresh. An opportunity to put behind us the failures, the tragedy and the suffering of the past.

There is no doubt that we are entering into the final stages of the resolution of the conflict.

The IRA cessation which has now been in place for a total of almost four years represents an important and positive contribution by the IRA to the resolution of the conflict. IRA guns are silent and the Sinn Fein leadership is confident that the IRA remains committed to the objective of a permanent peace.

By providing an effective political alternative we can remove the potential for conflict. That conflict must be for all of us now a thing of the past, over, done with and gone.

There has been a particular focus on arms. This issue is addressed directly in the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Fein accepts that decommissioning is an essential part of the peace process. We believe that the issue of arms will be finally and satisfactorily settled under the aegis of the de Chastelain commission as set out in the Agreement. All parties to the Agreement have an obligation to help bring decommissioning about. Sinn Fein is committed to discharging our responsibilities in this regard.

Decommissioning can only come about on a voluntary basis. The Good Friday Agreement makes clear that the context required for its resolution is the implementation of the overall settlement, including the operation of its institutions and using the mechanism of the de Chastelain commission. This is a collective responsibility.

Sinn Fein has total and absolute commitment to pursue our objectives by exclusively peaceful and democratic means in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement. For this reason we are totally opposed to any use of force or threat of force by others for any political purpose.

We are totally opposed to punishment attacks.

In the Executive, the two Sinn Fein ministers will make and honour the pledge of office which includes a commitment to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means. Under the terms of the Agreement any member of the Executive can be removed from office for failure to meet his or her responsibilities, including those set out in the Pledge of Office.

All sections of our people have suffered profoundly in this conflict. That suffering is a matter of deep regret but makes the difficult process of removing conflict all the more imperative. Sinn Fein wishes to work with, not against, the Unionists and recognises this as yet another imperative. For Sinn Fein co-operation and accommodation is the objective of this process.

We reiterate our total commitment to doing everything in our power to maintain the peace process and to removing the gun forever from the politics of our country.

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