Sinn Féin Leader Slams Britain At Canadian Fundraiser

(from CBC News, Sunday, November 10, 2002)

TORONTO - Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams urged Canadians Saturday to condemn Britain’s recent decision to suspend Northern Ireland’s government.

Adams said people in this country would not tolerate such interference in local politics.

“Imagine if someone came in from outside and said, ‘We want to give you some breathing space. We’re going to suspend your political institutions,’” he told a news conference in Toronto. “It doesn’t work like that.”

Adams, a pivotal figure in Northern Ireland politics, acknowledged that there have been problems with the power–sharing arrangement between the majority Protestants and minority Catholics.

But he said it’s the only hope his homeland has for peace, and called the return to direct rule from London a mistake.

“We’ve been round and round the talks merry–go–round for the last seven years,” Adams said. “But there’s no alternative. There’s no other way forward except through dialogue.”

For the fourth time in four years, Britain suspended the powers of Northern Ireland’s administration on Oct. 14. The coalition was facing collapse because the major Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists, threatened to resign. It said the Irish Republican Army had violated the 1998 Good Friday Peace Accord by not disarming.

Hardline Protestants also insisted that Sinn Féin, a political party with ties to the IRA, be forced out of the government. The demand came after allegations of spying against Sinn Féin. Police charged a party aide with having stolen documents “likely to be of use to terrorists.”

Adams thinks IRA will disband down the road.

British and Northern Ireland leaders are expected to announce talks this month aimed at restoring home rule by a Protestant–Catholic administration.

Adams came to Toronto as part of a five–day visit to North America to raise money and support for his party’s role in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

He repeated a prediction that the IRA will eventually disband, but warned that it won’t happen because some politicians attempt to impose their will on local people.

“Will the IRA go away because the Unionists demand it? No. The reality is that human nature and politics doesn’t work like that,” Adams said.

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Matthew Pace reports for CBC TV