Talks gloom as sanctions body legislation is debated

Sinn Féin has said Wednesday's meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London did not go well.

``We went to this meeting to seek assurances that the commitments made by the British government were going to be kept,'' said party President Gerry Adams.

``These are the commitments in about 70 per cent of the joint declaration relating to policing, demilitarisation, criminal justice, the equality agenda and human rights.

``We did not get those assurances that they were going to do those things at this time,'' Mr Adams said.

Sinn Féin and the nationalist SDLP criticised the British Prime Minister's refusal to publish the Cory report.

With evidence of some entrenchment in the talks process, the mood has further been soured by the Dublin government's move to pass legislation setting up the controversial International Monitoring Commission.

The body in mainly intended to impose sanctions against Sinn Féin in the Belfast Assembly, including the party's possible expulsion, if the IRA is adjudged to be engaging in any illegal activities.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble welcomed Irish government moves to pass the necessary legislation to set up of the commission.

Mr Trimble said that becoming operational in the beginning of January, the commission's focus will be on continued ``criminality'' .

``A review of the agreement and the Monitoring Commission will not however address the real underlying problem in the process - the failure of republicans to deliver effective acts of decommissioning,'' Mr Trimble said.

Until republicans face up to their obligations there is no prospect of real progress.''

The issue sparked fireworks at a session of the Dublin parliament, where the legislation was being rushed through parliament on the final day off the session.

Minister for Justice Michael McDowell insisted his government was acting in support of the Agreement and to ensure it prospered.

But he launched a far broader attack on the Republican Movement.

Declaring that Sinn Féin denied legitimacy to the Dail, he went to pronounce that there were ``fundamental intellectual and moral contradictions at the centre of their movement''. He insisted they were not the representatives of republican opinion in the Dail.

Sinn Féin's Dail leader, Mr Caoimghin O Caolain, dismissed the Minister's ``moralising and lofty lecturing''.

Sinn Féin members ``are democrats and we are committed to the sovereignty of the people and to the democratic institutions established by them'', he said.

Urgent Appeal

Despite increasing support for Irish freedom and unity, we need your help to overcome British and unionist intransigence. We can end the denial of our rights in relation to Brexit, the Irish language, a border poll and legacy issues, with your support.

Please support IRN now to help us continue reporting and campaigning for our national rights. Even one pound a month can make a big difference for us.

Your contribution can be made with a credit or debit card by clicking below. A continuing monthly donation of £2 or more will give you full access to this site. Thank you. Go raibh míle maith agat.

© 2003 Irish Republican News