National Press Club

Sinn Fein Leader Says Soldiers' Killing Should Not Derail Peace Process

March 17, 2009 | By Peter Hickman

Sinn Fein Leader Says Soldiers' Killing Should Not Derail Peace Process

Sinn Fein Leader Says Soldiers' Killing Should Not Derail Peace Process

Photo/Image: Gregory Tinius/Tinius-Arts Photography

Gerry Adams, president of the Northern Ireland political party Sinn Fein ("We, Ourselves," in Irish Gaelic), told a March 16 Newsmaker the public reaction to the recent murder of two British soldiers and a police officer in Northern Ireland "reflect the success" of the Good Friday Agreement peace process designed to establish a united Ireland. Adams also is a Member of Parliament of Britain but refuses to take his seat because it would require an oath of loyalty to the Queen.

"The vast majority of the people (of Northern Ireland) are opposed to what happened," Adams said, calling the killings "a full frontal attack" on the peace process. Those responsible "have to be resisted, politically, democratically, peacefully," he said. "They want to destroy the hard-won progress of recent times" but "...cannot be allowed to succeed."

Adams also said the Irish and British governments have their obligations in supporting the Good Friday Agreement. In particular for London, he said, "the democratic imperative demands ... the ending of British jurisdiction on this island."

In addition, Adams warned that the British government and Northern Ireland police must "resist any temptation or demands for a return to the bad practices of the past." Not only would that be wrong, he said, "It would also sideline the peace process and political leaders."

Everyone involved has a responsibility to defend the peace, he said. "There can be no turning back. Those I have met (in the U.S.) understand this. The peace process is clearly a work in progress. It is a journey we are on and a journey we have to complete."