The Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has said tonight that an end to the dispute over IRA decommissioning was possible, if Unionists were prepared to move away from their ‘no guns, no government policy’. He said that if Unionists maintained their demand for IRA decommissioning as the entry price for Sinn Féin's participation in a powersharing executive, the gap between Unionists and Republicans would not be bridged. But the Sinn Féin leader said that his party would not be dogmatic on this issue, if there was some way of meeting the Ulster Unionists party's demands.

Mr Adam’s comments follow a speech by the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in which he urged the parties in the North to make a supreme effort to overcome the outstanding obstacles. Speaking at the Annual Wolfe Tone commemoration in Bodenstown, County Kildare, Mr Ahern said that there would be no advantage from prolonging political stagnation and the rising community tensions.

In his address, the Taoiseach said that movement on the peace process was urgently needed. He warned that immense damage would be done if those who were opposed to the Good Friday Agreement succeeded in frustrating democracy. Mr Ahern said that it was a time for moral courage, leadership and responsibility. While he praised the leadership of Sinn Féin and the Loyalist Parties, he also deplored the lapses in the ceasefire which have resulted in punishment beatings and killings.

Mr Ahern also addressed the issue of sectarian bigotry in the North and said that it was as serious a problem today as it was 200 years ago. He went on to say that even without the establishment of the institutions proposed under the Good Friday Agreement, many of the reforms of the RUC as set out in the Patten Report should still be implemented.