Irish Republican News · December 8, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: PEACE PLAN ON HOLD AGAIN
PEACE PLAN ON HOLD AGAIN

The British Prime Minister and Irish Taoiseach are to reveal their proposals for peace in the North of Ireland this afternoon despite the refusal of Ian Paisley’s DUP to back the plan without symbolic photographs of IRA disarmament.

Last minute efforts have failed to breach the gap over the issue. Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that, while his party was ready to sign up to the deal, the Provisional IRA would not be humiliated.

However, unionists have insisted that a “visual aspect” to arms decommissioning is essential for their community to feel reassured. A reported proposal for representatives of the churches to witness the destruction of arms caches -- alongside the existing independent IICD arms body -- has proved insufficient for the DUP.

Another “soft landing” for the political process is therefore planned. The governments are apparently planning to make a public appeal for support in their continuing efforts to secure the deal, and will not attempt to change tack.

British officials have said that after a “short breather”, the governments would resume negotiations in the New Year.

Mr Blair’s spokesman said if the impasse revolved around fundamental issues then the governments would have considered publishing their so-called Plan B.

But because it was over a “narrow” issue that could be yet bridged, the governments would resume their attempts to find a compromise over the publication of images of IRA disarmament.

“We will be able to publish all of the proposals (today) and show the extent of the agreement we got on decommissioning, on ending paramilitary activity, on commitments to power-sharing while recognising that there is a gap, but that is a narrow gap on the issue of photographs,” the spokesman added.

However, Ian Paisley’s repeated remarks about “humiliating” republicans are being seen by some as a potentially fatal blow to the talks process.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern admitted yesterday afternoon that he didn’t see a way through the impasse.

“There is one major difficulty and I don’t see the resolution in that quite frankly,” he said. “There are a number of issues which have not been resolved, though progress has been made and there are obvious technical issues that have to be dealt with.”

Mr Ahern informed the Dublin parliament that talks between the IRA and the arms decommissioning body were ongoing.

Mr Adams said yesterday there was an unprecedented opportunity to forge a deal.

He asked: “Is that going to be squandered because one party has set out this impossible demand that one group should be humiliated?”

He recognised that some unionists do have genuine concerns about verification of arms being put beyond use, but Ian Paisley had to recognise also that the IRA “will not submit to a process of humiliation. I do not expect Ian Paisley, or the DUP or the unionist paramilitaries to submit to such a process of humiliation.”

He said the two governments know the significance of what the IRA was offering to do -- reported by Irish television to be to disarm and stand down by Christmas.

“This is not a time for them [the two governments] to pander to unrealisable DUP demands,” Mr Adams told a packed press conference in Belfast,

Mr Adams said the public position of the DUP leadership on the issue of power sharing with Sinn Féin also remained “a huge difficulty”, pointing out that the DUP leader, Ian Paisley, continues to refuse to even talk to his party.

“There is also a huge responsibility on .. the British Prime Minister, who currently has jurisdiction over this part of our island, to move forward on the delivery of the modest rights and entitlements set out, almost 7 years ago, in the Good Friday Agreement,” Mr Adams added.

“We now have an unprecedented opportunity to move forward on the basis of partnership, equality and justice. I urge the DUP to join us in this historic endeavour.”

But the DUP in a statement last night insisted that republicans must explicitly endorse the photograph proposals as part of a deal.

“We have always been told that the comprehensive agreement is not an à la carte menu,” said DUP Deputy leader Peter Robinson.

“It is not realistic for Sinn Féin to expect to choose a starter and a pudding and leave out the main course,” he said.

“There can be no smoke and mirrors this time,” he added.

© 2004 Irish Republican News