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SF wants timeframe for Agreement review
2003-12-29 16:20:01+00

The review of the Good Friday Agreement must be limited to one month, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said today.

As London and Dublin prepare for talks with all sides in Belfast, he also insisted the two governments had to make it clear there could be no renegotiation of the deal struck in April 1998.

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, are hoping discussions in the new year will advance the process, even though Ian Paisley has ruled out a chance of his Democratic Unionist Party entering into a power-sharing arrangement with Sinn Féin at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

No timetable for the talks has been announced, but Mr Adams has called for them to be limited to four weeks followed by prompt publication of the review's conclusions.

David Trimble's Ulster Unionists and Mark Durkan's SDLP will also be heavily involved, but the Sinn Féin leader said other political parties should be invited to take part as well, along with business, civic, church, equality, human rights and trade union representatives.

This process he said, was about a review of the operation and delivery of the Agreement and while the party welcomed the assertion by both governments that it would not be a review of the fundamentals, they were concerned some parties may seek renegotiation.

Mr Adams said: "There is an onus on both governments to make it clear that this will not happen or that anti-Agreement parties will not be allowed to use the review for their own ends.

"The review is not a substitute for working political institutions."

It was disappointing and unfortunate that parties were considering their approach to the review in the context of a continuing suspension of the political institutions which, he claimed, could only serve to encourage those who seek to veto the Agreement's implementation.

He said: "The suspension is itself a breach of the Agreement and undermines substantially any assertion by the governments that its fundamentals are not up for renegotiation.

"The suspension of the Assembly should be lifted immediately."

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