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Gerry Adams:
IRA will not be defeated in the course of a peace process
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The BBC's David Eades
"Suspicion within both traditions remains high"
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Sunday, 7 May, 2000, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Adams: IRA not defeated
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams with children holding memorial pictures of hunger stirkers
Gerry Adams: IRA initiative "commendable"
Gerry Adams has moved to reassure republicans over the IRA's offer to put its weapons beyond use.

Addressing a west Belfast rally to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands and other republican prisoners on hunger strike in the 1980s, Mr Adams said the IRA had not been defeated.

"What we have to get our heads around, what the British government has to get its head around and what unionists have to get their heads around, is that an IRA which was not defeated in 30 years of war is not going to let itself be defeated in the course of a peace process," he said.

But he said the IRA's statement on Saturday was a "commendable initiative".

The IRA said that in the context of the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement peace accord it would put its weapons beyond use as part of its "contribution to the peace process".

It said it would restart contacts with the decommissioning commission, broken off after the suspension of Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive in February.

It said it would also allow a number of its secured arms dumps to be inspected by international inspectors, who would report to General de Chastelain's decommissioning commission, as a confidence building measure.

'No new demands'

On Saturday Mr Adams called on republicans to view the IRA's "emotional and painful" decision to "overstretch" itself calmly.

Giving his response to the statement on Sunday Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said his party would need to consider whether the IRA statement would be enough to break the peace process arms impasse and allow him to lead his party back into a power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein.

The leader of the largest unionist party also told the BBC that he would seek answers to questions about how the inspection and verification process would be carried out.

But speaking at the rally Mr Adams indicated that republicans would not be prepared to reciprocate to any more demands from unionists or British representatives.

"The army's (IRA's) statement gets to the core of what's been going on here for the last two years, because what all this is about is change.

"And we the republicans, we want the most change. We want the total transformation of the situation.

"What the army leadership is trying to do is to give the people who don't want change, or who are opposed to change, or some who have genuine fears, some assurance," he said.

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See also:

06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA arms deadline extended
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Governments outline agreement timetable
07 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Churches welcome NI developments
07 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Unionists wary of IRA offer
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
The arms inspectors
06 May 00 | Northern Ireland
IRA statement in full
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