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Saturday, 29 September, 2001, 21:50 GMT 22:50 UK
Adams: Terrorism ethically indefensible
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams (left) with US Ambassador to Ireland, Richard J. Egan
Gerry Adams pointed to a weapons-free future
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has described the attacks in the United States as a crime against humanity.

Addressing his party's conference in Dublin, he declared that terrorism was "ethically indefensible".

Mr Adams acknowledged that the peace process in Northern Ireland was in disarray and accused Unionist leaders of "frustrating, belittling and undermining" progress on disarmament.

But he indicated that recent initiatives on the arms issue could point the way to a future free from IRA weapons.

'Huge developments'

Mr Adams said no one should underestimate what he called "huge developments on this issue".

However, he said "progressive struggles" should not be set back by the recent attacks on America.

These are huge developments which in the proper context point the way to a future free from IRA weapons

Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein president

"Whether you stand in Ardoyne, or America or Afghanistan, reflecting on the peace process here or on the massacre in Manhattan it is hard to avoid a foreboding," he said.

"But we cannot afford to succumb to despair. For the true political activist, the only choice is struggle and the only direction is forward."

The Sinn Fein president said the decommissioning issue could not be resolved on British or unionist terms, and he praised the IRA for agreeing with the De Chastelain body on a way of putting weapons completely beyond use.

"No one who has lived through the 70s, or the 80s or most of the 90s, who has even a basic understanding of republican history and theology, would ever have considered any of these things possible."

He added: "These are huge developments which in the proper context point the way to a future free from IRA weapons."

Republican anger

Decommissioning continues to dog the Northern Ireland peace process, with the refusal of the IRA to hand over the weapons being met with unionist threats to pull out of the power-sharing executive.

However, Mr Adams said his party would not give up on the peace process and he reiterated his view that the weapons issue could be solved.

Delegates, including members of the Basque and Palestinian communities, were told that republicans were getting "angry at a unionist leadership that frustrates, belittles and undermines" progress on the weapons issue.

Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams said Sinn Fein would not give up on peace process
Their anger was also directed at a British Government which had "remilitarised nationalist and republican heartlands", he said.

Mr Adams also launched a stinging attack on those who insisted on making decommissioning a "precondition for progress on all other issues" when policing, demilitarisation, justice, equality, human rights and the stability of the political institutions also needed to be addressed.

In reference to the three suspected IRA members, currently detained in Colombia on suspicion of training left-wing guerrillas, Mr Adams accused the media and unionist politicians of using the men as a distraction while loyalist attacks on Catholic schoolchildren in north Belfast.

During his speech, Mr Adams paid tribute to the outgoing SDLP leader John Hume and deputy leader Seamus Mallon, and offered to work with their successors.

However, he criticised the party for signing up to new policing proposals and said their decision did not augur well for the future.

The BBC's Mark Devenport
reports from Sinn Fein's party conference in Dublin

Assembly back

IRA arms breakthrough


Loyalist ceasefire





See also:

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Spotlight on Sinn Fein's visitors
29 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Adams: 'Stay with peace process'
26 Sep 01 | Americas
Rich friends in New York
26 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
SF fundraiser 'will benefit victims'
27 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Unionists petition Dublin politicians
23 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble threat to exclude Sinn Fein
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