Belfast Telegraph

Paisley is urged to test IRA on peace
Adams asks for talks with DUP leader

By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent
09 December 2004

Gerry Adams today acclaimed the IRA's latest statement as a "mighty declaration for peace".

But the Sinn Fein president warned the political process had reached a "defining moment" - against a backdrop of the risk of an increasingly polarised society.

And he challenged DUP leader Ian Paisley: "Test the IRA. Try to out the IRA - but talk to republicans."

The West Belfast MP said there was huge trauma and concern within republicanism as people tried to reach a sense of what the IRA statement means.

"There are people out there who have fought against the British, who are proud, rightly, of having fought the British, who have resisted attempts to criminalise, humiliate and totally and utterly obliterate them who are reading this and don't like what they are reading", he said. Mr Adams told the Press conference that there had been feedback from grass roots to the party's Dublin headquarters and offices across Northern Ireland.

But he said that what would define the present moment was the response of the British and Irish Governments and political unionism to the IRA statement.

"Some may say I am naive but I would appeal to Ian Paisley as the leader of unionism to come and talk to me about all this," he said.

"I would appeal to the two Governments and to the people out there to see how huge a statement this is. This is a declaration of intent, not of war or of further conflict but to deal with all the big issues that are presently presenting problems. It is a mighty declaration for peace and should not be dismissed."

Mr Adams said he accepted that the DUP, in accepting the equality agenda, the infrastructure of the Good Friday Agreement, the All-Ireland and power-sharing arrangements had also taken a huge step.

Mr Adams said he believed the current situation could be fixed but that the process should not be parked because of the run-in to the Westminster and local government elections.

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