Irish Republican News · March 22, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

A series of meetings are to take place tomorrow in Belfast in the latest attempt to resuscitate the peace process in the North of Ireland.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern are due to fly in for talks on the continuing failure to implement the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The formal review of the Agreement had been expected to be completed by Easter, but there have been few signs of progress in talks held earlier this month in both Belfast and London.

Sinn Féin's European election candidate in the Six Counties, Bairbre de Brun, said both governments had to face up to their own failure to honour commitments under the Agreement.

``Six years ago, the British government committed itself to a programme of demilitarisation and we have seen little progress,'' the West Belfast Assembly member said, following a meeting with British Minister John Spellar.

``In fact communities are still blighted by the presence of the British Army.

``My colleague Gerry Kelly told the minister today in north Belfast they are still seeing foot patrols despite a commitment that that would not be the case while my other colleague Conor Murphy reported the British Army is actually building new masts in south Armagh.

``There are commitments still to be delivered on policing, justice, on on-the-runs, in the Irish language, equality and human rights, on the release of the Cory Report.

``There has also been a singular focus on republican paramilitarism when unionist paramilitaries have been responsible for more violence and communities are under attack. The British government seems to be in denial of this fact.''

British officials said the summit was an attempt to ``inject momentum'' into the process as politicians return from their annual St Patrick's Day outings to the U.S. and elsewhere.

Nnionist hardliner Ian Paisley called on the two Prime Ministers to show they were serious about ending all activity by the IRA.

``The time for words is over,'' the DUP leader declared. ``Now is the time for them to demonstrate to Sinn Féin/IRA that the threat of terror will no longer buy them further concessions.''

The IMC, a four-member commission which monitors paramilitary ceasefires are to make their first report at Easter. Their report is to include an examination of the alleged attempted abduction and beating of Belfast dissident republican Bobby Tohill last month, which has fuelled demands for Sinn Féin to be expelled from the talks.

The controversial incident has been denied by Mr Tohill himself, who described it as a pub brawl, and by the mainstream IRA, who said they had not authorised any such action.

Speaking in Canada, the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, has said the DUP will have to share power with his party if they want to be part of a devolved government in the North.

In Calgary, Mr Adams said the DUP would have to engage in direct dialogue with Sinn Féin to give young unionists and nationalists the future they deserved.

The West Belfast MP said while Sinn Féin disagreed with the DUP on a lot of things, the party respected and acknowledged their mandate -- but it was up to them to acknowledge Sinn Féin's.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News