Kerry statement on Irish policy

The leading candidate in the race to become the Democratic Party nominee to oppose George Bush for the US Presidential election in November has made a statement on his Irish policy.

The Massachusetts senator ccused President Bush of failing to recognise the importance of building on the work of President Bill Clinton in facilitating the Irish peace process.

He also criticised the Republican White House for leaving Ireland without a US ambassador for more than a year.

He accused the Bush administration of a ``lack of urgency'' and said the absence of presidential involvement in peace efforts were ``clear evidence that Ireland is not a high priority for the Bush administration''.

As president he would put the peace process high on America's foreign policy agenda.

As a supporter of recent Assembly elections, he believed that repeatedly suspending democratic institutions was not the way forward.

He urged all parties involved to work for the earliest return of the assembly. He also said the review of the Belfast Agreement should not be a renegotiation.

``The DUP cannot be permitted to disenfranchise half the population of Northern Ireland by refusing to form a government with Sinn Fein,'' Mr Kerry's statement said.

``It must be remembered that 70 per cent of Northern Ireland's citizens voted for pro-agreement parties.

``All other aspects of the agreement should continue to be fully implemented and not put on hold while discussions proceed. Normalisation must continue.

``The human rights agenda must be implemented. It is equally important that the IRA take further substantive measures of decommissioning,'' he said.

Mr Kerry also said that hopefully the new police force in the North would soon command the support of everyone.

He also said that as president he would work with the Dublin Government in a ``much-needed effort to repair American ties with Europe, which were greatly damaged in President Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq''.

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