Sinn Fein Leader Mixes Talk of Compromise, Irish Unity

Article excerpt

A confident, unapologetic Gerry Adams pledged to work for a united Ireland in his lifetime in a speech at the National Press Club yesterday.

Later Mr. Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army's political wing, met with National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger. It was his first official meeting with a senior White House official since the IRA revived its cease-fire July 19.

Speaking less than two weeks before the Sept. 15 resumption of Northern Ireland peace talks at Belfast's Stormont Castle, Mr. Adams said the republican Sinn Fein movement is committed to "compromise, compromise, compromise" to achieve lasting peace.

"Our commitment to a negotiated settlement is forever," Mr. Adams said. "It isn't a whim. It isn't temporary. It is forever. We are totally and absolutely committed to our peace strategy, and we will persist with it until it concludes in a democratic peace settlement."

But Mr. Adams made clear that Sinn Fein will push relentlessly to fold Northern Ireland, where 900,000 Protestants coexist with 600,000 Catholics, into a united Irish state, an outcome most Ulster Protestants fiercely oppose.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair "says there will not be a united Ireland in the lifetime of people in Ireland; we say the exact opposite," Mr. Adams said. "There will be and there should be and there can be a united Ireland in our lifetimes."

Anne Smith, the Washington spokeswoman of the Ulster Unionist Party, the province's biggest Protestant political group, said Mr. Adams is offering talk of compromise without actions to back it up. …