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Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein president
"Everyone here knows that peace requires justice"
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Mark Brennock of the Irish Times
"He made it very clear that Sinn Fein is open for business
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Saturday, 8 April, 2000, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Adams warns of return to violence
Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams called on Tony Blair to take the initiative
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has warned that Northern Ireland could face a return to violence unless the fledgling power-sharing executive is restored.

The Search for Peace
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Link to Sinn Fein
Speaking at the Sinn Fein conference Mr Adams said UK Prime Minister Tony Blair should order Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson to reinstate the institutions he suspended in February amid deadlock over the issue of paramilitary disarmament.

"There is the possibility that all of the good work of recent years could be frittered away. Worse still there could be a slide back to conflict," he told delegates gathered in Dublin for the two-day conference.

Earlier at the Alliance Party conference, Mr Mandelson repeated hints he might restore the institutions ahead of decommissioning, but called on the IRA to make its intentions clear.

There is the possibility that all of the good work of recent years could be frittered away. Worse still there could be a slide back to conflict

Gerry Adams
Mr Adams said the decision to suspend the devolved executive had been the biggest mistake Labour had made since it came to power in 1997.

He said the government should not have made the decommissioning of terrorist weapons a precondition for power sharing, and again insisted that Sinn Fein - the IRA's political wing - could not force the IRA to hand over its weapons

Martin McGuinness: "Anxious" to deal with decommissioning issue
"If the decline of the Good Friday Agreement is to be reversed before it becomes terminal, then Mr Blair must steer his government and the process out of the current wobble.

"He must order the reinstatement of the institutions," Mr Adams said.

But Mr Mandelson said that an IRA signal of peaceful intent would be more valuable than a token gesture on decommissioning.

He told the Alliance conference that a more imaginative approach to the weapons issue was needed and said the IRA needed to create a climate of "confidence" for the power-sharing institutions to be restored ahead of disarmament.

Who should move first?

Earlier Sinn Fein national chairman, Mitchel McLaughlin, said the onus was on Ulster Unionists to demonstrate their willingness to re-start Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive.

Mr McLaughlin urged Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble to set aside preconditions for a power-sharing government and face down the anti-Good Friday Agreement section of his party.

"If David Trimble were turn up this morning and say 'We are ready to do the business in the institutions without any preconditions', we could actually have those institutions in the afternoon," he said on Saturday.

But senior Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey called Sinn Fein to end its "prevarication" on the question of paramilitary decommissioning during their conference.

"They have never really seriously addressed the arms issue or they have never seriously addressed the threat issue." "They need to address the issues seriously - if they don't, the agreement can't work."

The Good Friday Agreement lays down a deadline of 22 May for paramilitaries to hand in their weapons. Mr McGimpsey insisted the deadline remained important.

Bloody Sunday controversy

Mr Adams' speech came amid controversy about Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness, who was education minister in the short-lived Northern Ireland executive.

An unnamed informer has said the former IRA guerrilla fired a shot which triggered Londonderry's Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972 when British soldiers killed 14 civil rights demonstrators.

Mr McGuinness has called the claim "a pathetic fabrication"and told BBC Radio Ulster he had not fired a shot.

Mr Adams said the claim was an "Orwellian stroke" by the British military and reinforced some people's reservations about the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

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See also:

08 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
McGuinness denies Bloody Sunday 'shot'
07 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein in the spotlight
07 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
McGuinness 'willing' to attend inquiry
07 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
SF councillors 'under terrorist threat'
07 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Package to break deadlock expected
05 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
'No NI progress for years'
02 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Mandelson appeals to all NI sides
01 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Trimble needs arms assurances
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