Date: Thu, 11 Jan 1996 20:38:34 GMT
Reply-To: Fergus O'Dea <>
Sender: Activists Mailing List <>
From: Fergus O'Dea <>

Sinn Fiin submission to the Mitchell commission

11 January 1996

Here is the contents page and the foreword, introduction and summary of the recent Sinn Fiin submission to the Mitchell commission. The entire text can be found at:


Foreword by Gerry Adams

Chapter I

Sinn Fiin Peace Strategy

Chapter II

Britain's Response

Chapter III

Building Trust Through Dialogue

Chapter IV

The Issue of Arms

Chapter V



Origins of Sinn Fiin's Peace Strategy



A Sinn Fiin delegation—Pat Doherty, Lucilita Bhreatnach, Rita O'Hare, Martin McGuinness and myself made this submission to the International Body on the issue of decommissioning in Dublin on December 18, 1995.

It is a comprehensive submission which addresses all of the issues underpinning conflict in Ireland, including constitutional and political issues; matters of democratic rights, equality and justice; and demilitarisation.

We also made an oral submission—which included a formal request to the International Body to ask the British government for the Stalker, Sampson, Stevens reports and all other reports which the British government has suppressed and which have accumulated over the years on issues like shoot-to-kill; collusion; Brian Nelson; and torture in interrogation centres.

The stated objective of the twin track approach is to remove the preconditions to all party talks which have been erected by the British government.

What is required is speedy and urgent movement into political talks. This task is the collective responsibility of all the political parties but it is particularly the responsibility of the Irish and British governments.

Gerry Adams,
President of Sinn Fiin.
19 December 1995


Throughout the past twenty-five years of conflict in Ireland all political initiatives have failed to deliver a lasting peace.

In their wake came recrimination, disillusionment, fresh and often more intense violence, greater entrenchment and alienation. The initiatives failed because they were based on the false assumption that the constitutional crisis in Ireland could be resolved by a partitionist arrangement or with the minimum cognisance of democratic Irish nationalist aspirations.

These failures are a product of partition, stemming from the Government of Ireland Act (1920). The Stormont regime which came out of that Act ran a sectarian one-party state which lasted for 50 years. Derivatives of that system failed to provide consensus government: these were the power-sharing Assembly in 1974, the ‘Northern Ireland’ Convention in 1975, Secretary of State Humphrey Atkins' round-table talks in 1979, the ‘Northern Ireland' Assembly (1982-86), and Secretary of State Peter Brooke's ‘talks about talks' and Secretary of State Patrick Mayhew's ‘three-strand talks’ in the early 1990s. All these initiatives were based on exclusivity (as distinct from any parties absenting themselves from the negotiating table).

However, after the Irish Republican Army unilaterally declared a complete cessation of military operations on August 31, 1994, there was a widespread acknowledgement that at long last the political circumstances existed for a negotiated and agreed settlement which would take the gun out of Anglo-Irish politics permanently.

Regrettably, 16 months later, the British side has prevented any movement in that direction. Having initially employed a number of stalling devices to impede progress they eventually created an impasse on the basis of a contrived stumbling block. In so doing they turned an objective of the peace process into an obstacle.

That demand for a surrender of arms from the IRA, a native guerrilla army which has not been defeated, by an occupying power which has not been victorious, raises many questions about the good faith of the British, including their actual agenda and their real intentions.

This document is a summarised account by Sinn Fiin of the history of the Irish Peace Initiative against the background of 25 years of conflict, and the wider context of 75 years of oppression of nationalists in the six counties since Ireland was partitioned by the British government. It includes a response to the British paper on an IRA arms surrender, titled ‘Modalities of Decommissioning Arms’.


All of the armed groups have made it clear that they will not surrender their weapons.

The British government was the first to declare that it would not even countenance its armed forces coming into the equation. There is no expectation among any of the opposing factions that the issue of arms will be settled except in the context of a negotiated settlement. The big achievement has been to silence the weapons so that a negotiated settlement can be achieved and as part of this that those who have the weapons will be persuaded to dispose of them.

The demand for an arms surrender from the IRA, a native guerrilla army which has not been defeated, by an occupying power which has not been victorious, raises many questions about the British government's actual agenda and real intentions.

In so doing they have turned an objective of the peace process into an obstacle to progress.

Thankfully the guns have been silent for 16 months now. The critical first step has been made. It must be consolidated by being underpinned by a negotiated and agreed political settlement.

Both governments in the Downing Street Declaration have explicitly set inclusive and comprehensive talks as their goal yet after 16 months these have not begun. This is frustrating and threatens to dissipate the momentum towards a lasting peace.

A clear and absolute objective of a lasting peace settlement is the removal forever of the gun from the political equation in Ireland.

This is an absolute requirement.

The issue of arms must be settled to everyone's satisfaction.

The importance of this goal means that we need to situate it in the context where it is most likely to be achieved in practice.

An agreed political settlement has to encompass and find agreement on the demilitarisation of a society which is highly militarised.

That means there has to be agreement on:

In this it is Sinn Fiin's belief that the disposal of arms by those in possession of them is a method which may find acceptance.

The entire issue of arms will need to be dealt with in a way which imbues and maintains public and political confidence.

An independent third party could prove to be of assistance here. This would, of course, have to be agreed by those in possession of weapons. Public safety considerations must be high on the agenda of any process. Adequate safeguards against misappropriation of arms by others is clearly an important matter.