Irish Republican News · April 26, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
SDLP bemoan lack of Agreement

The nationalist SDLP has made proposals to the Dublin government for ending the 18-month suspension of the North’s political institutions and salvaging other elements of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Speaking after his meeting with the Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, SDLP Leader Mark Durkan stated, “The SDLP doesn’t want to wait until after the summer to make progress. We don’t want this drift to go on any longer.

“We are 18 months in suspension. The British Government is on a go-slow on implementing the Agreement. The North-South agenda isn’t moving. The Human Rights agenda is at sea. This is not what the SDLP set out to achieve and is not what we can accept.

“At our meeting with Taoiseach we put forward our ideas for ending the drift in the process and making progress. We were clear however that we are not in the game of excluding any party or leaving anybody behind.

“We see no reason why we cannot make progress sooner rather than later. We are determined not to let politics be stood down because others won’t face up to their responsibilities.

Last night Dublin Foreign Minister Brian Cowen met Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley at Stormont amid reports that the Dublin government believes the talks process is now on ice until after June elections and the Protestant marching season in July.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, speaking from Cork yesterday, sought to boost flagging nationalist confidence in the process.

He said he was pleased that talks were continuing, including a meeting on Sunday between the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach. It was a sign of the “more focused approach that is necessary to resolve the problems which have bedevilled the process”.

“Sinn Féin is not naive. We know there are profound difficulties. The governments need to make it clear to unionists that they need to engage in a meaningful way otherwise they will continue to make impossible demands on the rest of us.”

He said he understood why unionism felt no reason to move forward while pressure was on Sinn Féin following the imposition of a financial penalty on the party over alleged IRA activity.

“Obviously there is an onus on everybody collectively to make this process work. No party or government can avoid their responsibilities, but at this time, there is an onus on the two governments to create the conditions for forward momentum.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News