Adams issues warning to Blair

27/07/2004 - 13:00:01

Tony Blair has been warned that elements within his own system are encouraging a backward slide in the Northern Ireland peace process, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams claimed today.

It was being done to placate Unionists who were against change, he said.

Mr Adams told republicans at the graveside of former IRA Chief of Staff Joe Cahill, whose funeral took place today: “It is the securocrats on the British side and their allies who are calling the shots.”

The republican leadership will be heavily involved in make-or-break talks in September in a bid to restore the power-sharing executive in Belfast which was suspended last October over Unionist claims of a spy ring operating at Stormont.

West Belfast was brought to a halt for Cahill’s funeral.

At one stage Mr Adams and Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness carried the coffin which was draped in the Tricolour.

There was a guard of honour of men wearing black berets and a lone piper headed the huge procession stewarded by republicans in white shirts and black ties.

With thousands in attendance, including the Brighton bomber Patrick Magee, it was one of the largest republican funerals in west Belfast since the IRA hunger strike death of Bobby Sands in 1981.

Cahill, aged 84, who helped form the modern IRA and shape its 30-year campaign, died at the weekend from asbestos exposure.

The Sinn Féin president, a close confidant of Cahill, said: “Tony Blair has said if the process isn’t going forward, it will go backwards. We have told him in recent times that elements within his own system, particularly within the NIO, are doing their best to subvert progress and to encourage the backward slide.”

With next month marking the 10th anniversary of the IRA’s 1994 ceasefire declaration, he added: “The British government has a clear-cut choice. Either it stands with the Good Friday Agreement and builds a bridge towards democracy and equality, or it sides with the forces of reaction as successive British governments did for decades.”

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