Irish Republican News · July 7, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

Nationalist frustration has grown after the British and 26-County governments again suggested that they have little role to play in resolving the deadlock in the peace process.

In briefings overnight around today’s British Irish Inter-Governmental Conference, it was claimed that the success of planned talks in September will be down solely to Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Speaking after the conference meeting, British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy and 26-County Foreign Minister Brian Cowen denied that the governments have discussed winding up the Belfast Assembly at Stormont if intensive political talks fail in September.

They described the talks as “very, very important” and they wanted them to succeed.

However, Sinn Féin dismay at the ongoing stalemate has grown in recent days.

The party’s chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness said that the time for intensive discussions was now.

“As everybody knows, as a result of the recent elections the political landscape of the North is probably going to see the dominance of the DUP and Sinn Féin for at least the next 10 years,” he said.

“There is no escaping the need for Sinn Féin and the DUP to work together in conjunction with the two governments.

Mr McGuinness said the DUP’s continuing refusal to talk to his party, while openly working with unionist paramilitaries in marching lobby groups, was “now almost ludicrous”.

Urging all sides to engage over coming weeks, he added: “If there is to be a political breakthrough in September then the work needs to be done now.”

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams met the 26-County Prime Minister Bertie Ahern in Dublin today ahead of the conference meeting.

He warned the two governments that any effort to resolve outstanding issues in September would fail “if the British government continue to try and abdicate any responsibility for the current crisis, or refuse to accept that it has a significant contribution to make to any agreement”.

Mr Adams said that while republicans and the DUP had “important contributions to make” to any possible deal in September, the British and Irish governments also had responsibility for key issues requiring resolution.

“In particular the British governments failure to tackle the issue of collusion, best illustrated by its refusal to hold an independent inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane, is evidence of that governments appalling record on keeping commitments.”

A number of other contacts have continued in efforts to retain momentum in the process despite the traditional summer holiday season.


They come as former US senator George Mitchell, who helped broker the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, warned of the dangers of a political vacuum.

Mr Mitchell, who is on a visit to Ireland, said he believed power-sharing self-government could be restored to the Six Counties after a two-year hiatus, but couldn’t say “when or how”.

Meanwhile, a Church of Ireland cleric has warned that international sympathy for the North is fading.

Bishop of Clogher Michael Jackson said that as long as its political and social future remained uncertain, society in the north would be unable to “tear down the Berlin Wall of its soul”.

“The divisions in society have worn us down, we have lost international sympathy six years after the Agreement,” he said.

“Our inability to resolve problems and dilemmas in the name of Christ Jesus loses us such sympathy daily because to so many people it beggars belief and defies comprehension.

“Inertia is a poor dividend for a people committed to peace with justice, for with God and God’s children the two have to go together.

“The political and social future in Northern Ireland remains uncertain.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News