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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 February, 2005, 20:07 GMT
SF 'against any conflict return'
Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams said Sinn Fein wanted to defend the peace process
Sinn Fein is totally opposed to any return to conflict, Gerry Adams has said.

Mr Adams said a return to conflict would have "devastating consequences for everyone on the island".

He challenged the British and Irish governments to decide where their priorities lay.

The IRA denies claims it was behind the 26.5m Belfast bank raid in December, and earlier this week, it withdrew its offer of complete decommissioning.

Mr Adams said Sinn Fein's priority was to defend the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

We remain wedded to our peace strategy
Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein president

The Sinn Fein president was speaking after the IRA issued two statements warning of the serious state of the political process.

Mr Adams told party members in Dublin on Saturday that the governments had abused the party's role as messengers for the IRA.

He said: "The electoral mandate of the Sinn Fein party has been ignored. We remain wedded to our peace strategy."

Mr Adams added that the "mishandling" of recent political efforts had been "extremely damaging to the peace process".

The fundamental problems lie within the Provisional movement and lashing out at others isn't going to solve those problems
Michael McDowell
Irish justice minister

He claimed the problem was the DUP's refusal to share power, and said the government's confrontational approach was making a bad situation worse.

The Irish Republic's Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, criticised Sinn Fein and the IRA for blaming others over the current crisis.

He said: "The fundamental problems lie within the Provisional movement and lashing out at others isn't going to solve those problems."

Speaking before a meeting of his Progressive Democrats Party in Celbridge, County Kildare, on Saturday night, the minister ruled out imposing any political sanctions against Sinn Fein.

"Anything that could assist them to characterise themselves as victims in a process where they are in fact causing all the major problems for themselves, is in our view counter-productive," he said.

'A mess'

The IRA's latest statement said: "The two governments are trying to play down the importance of our statement because they are making a mess of the peace process.

"Do not underestimate the seriousness of the situation."

Unionist politicians have described the statement as "sinister".

The Independent Monitoring Commission has presented its report on the robbery to the British and Irish governments.

The report is not expected to be published until next week.

It is thought it will concur with the police assessment that the IRA was to blame for the bank raid and to suggest sanctions against Sinn Fein.


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