Irish American Information Service

06/15/04 05:26 EST

Rushing into coalition government in the Republic could backfire on Sinn Féin, party president Mr Gerry Adams said today.

Mr Adams said aligning with other parties, either in opposition or government, would be a mistake unless the peace process and radical social reforms were a priority.

"It was always a mistake for parties like the Labour Party, which argue that they are radical and progressive, to be even contemplating going into coalition, " he said.

"Instead of being the vanguard of Labour they become the mudguard. If we were going to contemplate involvement with any other party in opposition or government they would have to be good on the North," Mr Adams said.

Mr Adams added political partners would have to be focused on the national question and offer unequivocal support to the peace process.

He said the party would make decisions on coalition involvement "in the fullness of time" based on whether the party's mandate could be advanced.

The Sinn Féin president ruled out coalition unless other parties agreed to terms on the peace process and called on them to work to resolve the current impasse.

"I think any party that is involved in trying to bring about change can only be involved in a government, first of all if you have a mandate and we don`t have such a mandate yet. And if the platform for that government honors and fulfils that party`s manifesto."

"I think the focus we all have to be involved in, and it`s above party politics, is getting this peace process sorted out and getting it bedded down and moved ahead," he said.

He also pointed to the need for radical reforms to reverse social inequalities, not just for those on the poverty line but also those struggling to get on the property ladder.

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