Irish Republican News · October 29, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

The British and Irish governments may decide soon to present a document to end the stalemate in talks about restoring power-sharing political institutions in Belfast.

The talks, involving the two governments, Ian Paisley's DUP and Sinn Féin, have been deadlocked since intensive talks took place at Leeds Castle in southern England last month. The two governments had predicted an imminent deal earlier this month, but disagreements have continued over attempts by the DUP to rewrite the 1998 Good Friday peace Agreement and a move by the Provisional IRA to end its campaign.

The ongoing talks involving Irish and British officials in separate meetings with the DUP and Sinn Féin are said to be at a particularly sensitive stage.

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness had set a deadline of this weekend for a breakthrough in the negotiations, although that now appears unlikely. Others have suggested that the DUP are not keen on a deal before the British general elections next year.

Yersterday, the Irish Prime Minister, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, said progress was being made on several burning issues but it was time to take the final steps to re-establish the Stormont Assembly and Executive.

He said all sides were frustrated, but that talks would go on.

“We can’t go on indefinitely but we’re not at the stage of calling it just yet,” Mr Ahern said. “We made a lot of progress in a lot of weeks but not enough.

“Where we are at, it’s ongoing work, and it’s quite difficult. We’re trying to make progress and it’s true to say we are in some difficult areas,” the Taoiseach added.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said last night that the two governments needed to drive the process forward.

He said republicans were prepared to "face up to the challenges" in order to achieve a "comprehensive and holistic agreement".

But he said it must be within the terms of the 1998 accord.

"Sinn Féin is not prepared to countenance any dilution or erosion of the Good Friday Agreement – and that remains the objective of the DUP.

“Against this background the two governments need to understand that there is no middle line between the agreement and the anti-agreement position of the DUP.”

Mr Adams said it was the governments' responsibility to defend the core fundamentals and principles of the agreement and to make it clear that they cannot be changed.

Meanwhile, the DUP, led by Deputy leader Peter Robinson, last night blocked nationalist moves to introduce power-sharing on Castlereagh council.

The Ulster Unionist Party also helped to defeat a motion calling for all posts to be allocated among all parties.

Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin said that the vote was "an opportunity for the DUP to show some generosity and imagination. Instead we saw the domination, intolerance and exclusion which have characterised Paisleyism over the past 3 decades."

He said the DUP had revealed their true pòsition on power-sharing.

It had "become increasingly clear that, contrary to some positive posturing, that the DUP remain fundamentally opposed to the power-sharing and all-Ireland core of the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

"The rejectionist demands of the DUP are now the primary obstacle to a comprehensive agreement."

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© 2004 Irish Republican News