Sinn Fein leader urges Madrid - ETA talks

17th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 February 2005, MADRID- Gerry Adams, leader of Northern Ireland's pro-Republican Sinn Fein party, said he was ready to play what role he could in helping to bring peace to Spain's crisis-torn northern Basque region.

17 February 2005

MADRID- Gerry Adams, leader of Northern Ireland's pro-Republican Sinn Fein party, said he was ready to play what role he could in helping to bring peace to Spain's crisis-torn northern Basque region.

Parallels have often been made between the Basque conflict, which has cost more than 800 lives in the past four decades, and strife-ridden Northern Ireland, where thousands more have died as Republicans have sought to secure an end to British rule while loyalists have endeavoured to retain links to London.

Adams, in Madrid to promote his recent autobiography and who was due to meet leading Basque figures on Thursday, said he hoped to contribute where he could.

"The people I will meet will, I hope, inform me of the current efforts to put together a peace process here. If I can help, I will of course help," Adams said at a news conference, adding he never had contact with the armed Basque separatist group ETA, which is seeking an independent Basque state.

Adams urged the Spanish government and ETA to open talks.

Both sides refuse to talk to each other, Madrid saying it will not  open talks until ETA lays down its arms.

"Dialogue is the way of resolving problems. You don't kill problems," said Adams, who added that politics often involved "a lot of hypocrisy."

He referred to governments talking to radical groups while pretending they were beyond the pale.

"If you don't talk, if you don't listen, if you don't see that you are part of the problem, how can you offer solutions?" asked Adams, who stressed he was a convert to dialogue and "proactive listening."

However, Adams added that "I have defended the right of the IRA (Irish Republican Army, of which Sinn Fein is the political wing) to engage in armed actions" in the past.

Adams said he had spoken with Father Alec Reid, an influential figure in Northern Irish peace negotiations in the 1980s which ultimately led to the 1998 Good Friday agreement.

Reid has also been seeking to act as a peace broker in the Basque conflict.

Sources close to Adams said Reid was convinced progress was being made towards putting together a Basque peace process.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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