Irish Republican News · July 30, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Schedule unveiled for crunch talks

Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy has urged the British government to “build a bridge towards democracy and equality” following the setting of a timetable for intensive discussions on the peace process next month.

The talks are scheduled to take place from September 16 to September 18, with the location still to be confirmed.

The Irish minister for foreign affairs Brian Cowen and British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy sent letters this weeek to the political parties, outlining proposed arrangements for resumed political dialogue.

The aim will be to seek common ground in advance of the further sessions in the negotiations to be led by the 26-County Taoiseach and British Prime Minister next month.

Initial discussions are to take place in Belfast from September 1 to September 3, with so-called internal ‘Strand 1’ Six County matters on the agenda for September 1.

Mr Murphy said that as the talks approaches, and negotiations go into a new mode, the British government had a clear cut choice.

He said: “Either it stands with the Good Friday Agreement and builds a bridge towards democracy and equality, or it sides with the forces of reaction as successive British governments did for decades.

“The challenge is for Mr Blair to get his system on board the Good Friday Agreement. So far he has failed to do this.

“Tony Blair has said if the process isn’t going forward it will go backwards. Elements within his own system, particularly within the NIO, are doing their best to subvert progress and to encourage the backward slide.

“If British policy is the Good Friday Agreement ... then the two governments have a common strategy to bring it about.”

Mr Murphy pointed out that the British government continues to refuse an inquiry into the collusion behind the killing of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane.

The Newry Armagh assembly member said: “London’s refusal to deal properly with the issue of collusion is of particular significance.

“The British government’s handling of the Human Rights Commission and equality issues also go to the heart of this issue and in many ways is the clearest example of what the appeasement of unionism has led to .

“What have all these issues in common? They are all managed by unionists, and in some cases securocrats.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News