07 April 2005



7 April 2005

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Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has called on the IRA to commit itself to “purely political and democratic activity” during a deeply historic address at Conway Mill in Belfast yesterday afternoon.

Mr Adams said that the republican struggle has now reached “a defining moment” in which the IRA should “lead by example” and “rise to this challenge”.

The West Belfast MP’s address - which had already been given to the IRA Army Council - could now herald the most momentous developments in the peace process since the IRA’s cessation of military activities in 1994.

Speaking directly to IRA volunteers, Mr Adams stated that a political alternative now exists to “armed struggle”.

“Your determination, selflessness and courage have brought the freedom struggle towards its fulfilment. That struggle can now be taken forward by other means. I say this with the authority of my office as President of Sinn Féin,” Mr Adams said.

“In the past I have defended the right of the IRA to engage in armed struggle. I did so because there was no alternative for those who would not bend the knee, or turn a blind eye to oppression, or for those who wanted a national republic.

“Now there is an alternative. I have clearly set out my view of what that alternative is,” he said.

“The way forward is by building political support for republican and democratic objectives across Ireland and by winning support for these goals internationally.

“I want to use this occasion therefore to appeal to the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann to fully accept this alternative.

“Could you take courageous initiatives which will achieve your aims by purely political and democratic activity?” Mr Adams asked.

Acknowledging that “truly historic decisions can only be taken in the aftermath of intense internal consultation”, Mr Adams called on the IRA start this review process as quickly as possible.

Reacting to the development, a British government spokesperson admitted that it was “a significant statement”.

“Obviously the key will be what the IRA does as a result, and it's on that that any final judgement must be made,” the spokesperson said.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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