Irish Republican News · October 3, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: US pols ready to assist in Stormont crisis
US pols ready to assist in Stormont crisis

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Former US President Bill Clinton and former US Presidential candidate Gary Hart are both engaged in a trans-atlantic effort to sustain the worn-down power-sharing administration in the north of Ireland.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny revealed he held a one-hour meeting with Mr Clinton, who spoke of his concerns surrounding the current crises in the north’s political process.

Mr Kenny said during the discussions, which were held during his short visit to New York, the former president described his “continued interest” in the north of Ireland.

The five main political parties have been holding talks following a near-terminal bust-up over allegations that individual members of the Provisional IRA have been engaged in armed actions.

Speaking after the meeting with Mr Clinton in New York, Mr Kenny said the former US President was quite concerned at the “fragility and the difficulty that the talks have entered at the moment”.

Mr Clinton has previously described that working on the peace process in the 1990s was one of the “great honours” of his life. He said he remained available “in any event that assistance were to be required or appropriate”.

Former US Senator Gary Hart, the official US Envoy to the north, is to return to Belfast later this month for the first time since March as part of efforts to resolve the crisis.

The 26-County Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, who was visiting Washington DC to discuss the situation in the north, spoke to Mr Hart on Wednesday.

He said: “The past year has shown the great value of engagement with our friends from Washington, including in the continuing process of talks in Northern Ireland which has included valuable US input, especially by Senator Gary Hart.

“I’m glad to have this opportunity to sit down with friends from both sides of the aisle and brief them directly on the current state of play.”

The current talks process also involves discussions around unimplemented aspects of previous agreements, so-called ‘legacy issues’ around dealing with the past conflict, and cuts to welfare payments.

British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers said the discussions in Belfast had been “detailed and serious”, but that “substantial differences” remain between the parties at the end of the second week of talks.

Villiers has threatened that London is prepared to take back powers from Stormont in the absence of an agreement.

UNIONISTS ‘FOMENTING CONFLICT’

Speaking at the first of a series of Sinn Féin “leadership events” on Wednesday evening, the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that unionist parties were lacking in leadership.

He said some unionist ministers could have done more to diffuse tensions at the Ardoyne interface around the Twelfth of July. He accused them of standing by as loyalist rioters attacked the PSNI.

“We had a situation where hundreds of police officers were being injured on the streets of Belfast as a result of riots that were taking place,” he said.

“And at the same time, we had some unionist ministers, who on a Thursday afternoon, were sitting round the Executive table with ourselves and then running up to north Belfast, standing beside the UVF, standing beside the Orange Order, and effectively flapping like penguins every time they uttered their outrageous comments which were designed to foment conflict on the streets of north Belfast.”

Mr McGuinness also said he was “standing by” prominent republican Bobby Storey who was arrested in connection with a recent killing before being released without charge.

After the meeting in Derry, Mr McGuinness said: “He is a completely innocent man, someone who has given total commitment to supporting and being part of a Sinn Féin leadership that has helped transform both the security and political situation in the north.”

“So I think that the Chief Constable of the PSNI has his job to do but I certainly think that in the context of the arrest of Bobby Storey I have a duty and responsibility to stand by someone in whom I have total belief of his innocence.

“If I didn’t have that total belief, I wouldn’t do it.”

© 2015 Irish Republican News