Belfast Telegraph

Adams hits out at DUP 'failure'

Gerry Adams has accused the DUP of failing to take a positive approach to political talks about Northern Ireland peace process issues.

The Sinn Fein president blamed the challenge from those on the "extreme right" of unionism opposed to concessions and said the party's partners in government at Stormont had failed to face down so-called rejectionists.

Keen to avoid a repeat of violence that erupted in Belfast over a parading dispute last July, the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fein are hoping a deal could help reduce tensions during this summer's marching season.

Mr Adams said: "Two weeks ago party leaders in the North agreed to re-engage in intensive talks around these issues.

"Since then, however we see no evidence that the DUP is willing to approach this process in a positive, constructive way.

"This is all to do with what is happening within political unionism."

DUP First Minister Peter Robinson and Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are due to convene two separate three-day sessions of talks with representatives of the five parties in the devolved power-sharing executive. They will focus on contentious loyal order parades, the flying of the Union flag and others and the toxic legacy of conflict murders for victims and society.

Mr Robinson has said trust is in short supply.

It followed revelations that secret letters were sent to republican on-the-runs by the Government telling them they were not wanted by police investigating conflict crimes but not ruling out future prosecutions if new evidence emerged.

The First Minister has said he was not aware of the administrative scheme, drawn up following negotiations between Sinn Fein and the last Labour government.

He has said he will not negotiate on dealing with the past until a report by Lady Justice Heather Hallett about on-the-runs is published. Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers has said it will be slightly delayed but it is due soon.

Mr Adams told a republican commemoration near Dublin the Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist parties adopted the St Andrews and Hillsborough peace process-related political agreements but were being challenged by those on the more extreme right like the Traditional Unionist Voice and UKIP.

He added: "This is a consequence of the huge failure by the UUP and the DUP to face down these rejectionists in the same way as Sinn Fein has done with anti-Agreement elements on the fringes of republicanism.

"Let me be clear - Sinn Fein will continue to stretch out the hand of friendship to our unionist neighbours. We will uphold everyone's civil and religious rights.

"But we will also stand firmly and robustly against the bigots, the racists and the sectarian fundamentalists. They and their political cheer leaders are on the wrong side of history.

"Change may be delayed but it cannot be stopped."

The renewed bid for a political settlement within weeks comes six months after marathon sessions chaired by former US diplomat Richard Haass ended without agreement and only weeks before the loyal order parading season, which in recent years has sparked rioting in north Belfast, gets into full swing.

The negotiations are in part an effort to avoid violence which has characterised annual Twelfth of July loyal order demonstrations in north Belfast.

Restrictions have in the past been imposed on a parade through a short stretch of road passing nationalist housing in Ardoyne but a heavy security presence has been necessary to enforce the separation of loyalists and republicans and keep the peace.

In past years dissident republicans opposed to the peace process have engaged in violence at the sectarian flashpoint, hurling petrol bombs and other missiles at riot police.

Last year loyalist rioters targeted police during a number of nights of trouble, sparked when the Orange Order parade was banned from returning home from Twelfth commemorations past the Ardoyne.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said Sinn Fein had shown intolerance in protesting against a parade by the Orange Order in Co Londonderry.

He said: "Sinn Fein have it within their own ability to show leadership on parading. They could start by removing their utter intolerance of anything Orange and give their support to parades being accepted in shared communities and along arterial routes. It appears they don't want an Orangeman about the place."

He said the OTR scheme was deceitful, introduced behind the other parties' backs, by the Labour Government and at the behest of Sinn Fein, a corruption of justice that literally allowed terrorists to get away with murder.

Mr Campbell added: "It was Gerry Adams who told the Labour Government that the scheme had to be 'invisible' or else unionists would derail it. Rather than preaching to unionism Gerry Adams should acknowledge the damage his party's underhand dealings have done to the process.

"Acts such as these by Sinn Fein do not help build an environment where issues can be resolved. Sinn Fein's words are not in keeping with its actions. Indeed, its actions are damaging the chances of getting agreement."

He said the DUP has played a full part in party leaders' meetings.

"We want to get a better way forward. One, which unionists can buy into. Haass did not deliver that. The DUP delivered better deals for unionism and Northern Ireland at St Andrews and Hillsborough. We want to do the same again and reach agreement on the unresolved issues."

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