Sunday Life

We're up for a deal
but won't settle for anything less than Agreement

10 October 2004

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness claimed yesterday that his party "were up for a deal"- but it had to be within the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

He made the claim as Sinn Fein officials met in Dublin, to review the state of the talks aimed at restoring power-sharing.

As British and Irish officials worked on a formula to restore devolution, Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, was preparing to brief colleagues on the party's national executive, about recent negotiations with both governments.

The governments and Democratic Unionists were warned by chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, that a comprehensive deal, which would involve a groundbreaking IRA statement on its future, was only possible within the terms of the Agreement.

"Sinn Fein are up for a deal," the Mid Ulster MP.

"We have been working hard with both governments all week, to try and achieve progress, but the bottom line is that the DUP need to accept that a comprehensive deal is not possible short of the Good Friday Agreement.

"Sinn Fein will not settle for anything less than the Agreement."

"The fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement - power sharing, equality, all-Ireland institutions, human rights and, crucially, the checks and balances and the protections designed to prevent unionist abuse of power - are not up for negotiation."

At the end of last month's Leeds Castle talks in Kent, Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said he believed the difficult issues of the IRA winding down and carrying out full disarmament, could be resolved.

However, the Provisionals have put its statement on hold, until unionist and nationalist negotiators sort out their differences over power sharing.

Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists want changes to the way the Assembly, power sharing executive and cross-border institutions will operate.

However, the SDLP and Sinn Fein have accused the party of trying to rewrite the Agreement.

They also claimed the British and Irish governments have encouraged the DUP to think this can be achieved.

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