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

[Irish Republican News]
Peace efforts to resume next week

The Dublin government is looking to secure an agreement in the peace process before the British General Election, expected in May.

A tentative peace deal to amend the 199 Good Friday Agreement involving Ian Paisley’s DUP and the Provisional IRA collapsed earlier this month in a dispute over DUP demands for symbolic photographs of the IRA decommissioning its weapons caches.

Dublin’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Dermot Ahern said yesterday that his government would not contemplate any break in the process due to the dangers of allowing it to drift.

The Minister said that in private talks in Brussels, the Irish and British Prime Ministers, repeated their “absolute determination” to get an early restoration of the Northern institutions.

“From the first day of January, our officials will be back working on this,” Mr Ahern said. “I think an agreement will happen one way or another. It is a question of time. But when it is put in place, it will work.

“It behoves everyone to compromise on the issues they are holding steady on. We will continue trying very hard to get movement on these issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein has called for direct talks with Ian Paisley’s DUP.

Sinn Fein’s Mitchel McLaughlin described the refusal by the DUP to engage fully in the current process was “not about photos or even IRA weapons. It is all about avoiding power sharing with republicans.”

Mr Paisley effectively scuppered a proposed deal when he said that the photos would be a deserved humiliation for the IRA.

Mr McLaughlin said the DUP was not “psychologically prepared to share power” and Ian Paisley had successfully used the issue of photos to deflect attention from within his own constituency away from the fact that the DUP had accepted the “fundamentals of the Good Friday Agreement and its all-Ireland architecture”.

The Sinn Fein chairman said Ian Paisley “was always going to erect obstacles and make unrealisable demands” in order to avoid engaging in all-Ireland structures.

“And if successful in these demands, then, as the last few days have proven, he has a ever-ending shopping list that would frustrate the most accommodating among us.”

He said that, although it was the DUP leader that made the public demand for photographs and placed such photographs in the context of humiliation, “he was only capitalising on a major blunder by the two governments in inserting such an expectation in their joint proposals in the first place. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the governments to disavow Ian Paisley and his party from any notion that this demand is achievable.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News