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Tuesday, 23 July, 2002, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Adams angry at IRA ceasefire focus
Head to Head: John Reid and Gerry Adams
The Sinn Fein president has criticised the government for "focussing" on the IRA ceasefire when, he said, the main threat to peace came from loyalists.

Gerry Adams was speaking after talks with the Northern Ireland Secretary, John Reid, at Hillsborough on Tuesday.

Problems facing the political process and the sectarian murder of a Catholic teenager in north Belfast were thought to have been discussed at the 90-minute meeting.

Gerard Lawlor, 19, was murdered by the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Freedom Fighters, a cover name for the UDA, on Sunday night.

We now have to save the peace process by making sure that there is some new momentum being established

Quentin Davis
Conservative Party

The terror group said the killing was a "measured military response" to republican attacks on the Protestant community.

On Wednesday, the prime minister is due to make a statement in the House of Commons about the state of the loyalist and republican ceasefires.

Mr Adams criticised Tony Blair ahead of that statement.

He said it was "disgraceful that Mr Blair was focusing on republicans at a time when the threat to the peace process came from loyalists".

"The reality is that Catholics are being killed in Belfast," said Mr Adams. "There is a planned, organised campaign by loyalists against Catholics.

"The unionists' response to this is to seek the exclusion of Sinn Fein from our rightful place on the executive.

"Tomorrow the British Prime Minister is making remarks aimed at republicans at the behest of the Ulster Unionist Party and the securocrats within their own system.

"It is disgraceful, it is totally unacceptable".

In the statement, Mr Blair will also outline his view of the best way forward.

It follows demands from unionist politicians for a tougher definition of the ceasefires - what the UUP has called "Mitchell Principles with bite."

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
David Trimble: Urged government to "get a grip" on situation

Ulster Unionists are demanding that Sinn Fein, as members of the power-sharing executive, be held to account for any breaches of the IRA ceasefire.

The Conservative Party's spokesman on Northern Ireland, Quentin Davies, said the peace process was in crisis.

He told BBC Radio Ulster on Tuesday that the government must agree on "real sanctions" against republican or loyalist paramilitary groups which breached the Agreement.

He added: "We now have to save the peace process by making sure that there's some new momentum being established."

Meanwhile, Dr Reid is trying to work out how best to respond to the recent wave of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, which has seen homes and individuals attacked.

Quentin Davis, Conservative's spokesman on Northern Ireland
Quentin Davis: Sanctions call

Sinn Fein continues to be critical of the government's approach.

Ahead of Tuesday's meeting, a Sinn Fein spokesman said the British Government "should not allow itself to be mesmerised by David Trimble".

Mr Blair pledged to rebuild confidence in the Northern Ireland process after talks with the pro-Agreement parties and Irish premier Bertie Ahern at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, earlier this month.

However, Sinn Fein said the crisis was not in the Agreement, but within unionism itself.

'Get grip'

Unionists point to allegations that the IRA was behind the break-in at Belfast's police headquarters, during which sensitive Special Branch intelligence was stolen on 17 March.

They have also raised allegations of IRA involvement with left-wing guerillas in Colombia and the issue of IRA files detailing information on senior Conservative Party members and Army bases in England.

On Monday, Mr Trimble warned that Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists could become Northern Ireland's dominant parties unless the government gets a grip on the political situation.

BBC NI's Martina Purdy:
"It appears the prime minister will not be able to please anyone"
BBC NI's Mark Simpson:
"Decision time is approaching for the government"
UUP assembly member Fred Cobain:
"I think this process is becoming morally bankrupt"
Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

Devolution crisis





See also:

22 Jul 02 | N Ireland
23 Jul 02 | N Ireland
20 Jul 02 | N Ireland
19 Jul 02 | N Ireland
05 Jul 02 | N Ireland
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