FRUSTRATION AT GOVERNMENTS' INACTION
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 Fein
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 Fein dismay at the ongoing stalemate has grown in
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 Fein for at least the next 10
years," he said.
"There is no escaping the need for Sinn Fein 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 Fein 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
A number of other contacts have continued in efforts to retain
momentum in the process despite the traditional summer holiday
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
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
"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
"The political and social future in Northern Ireland remains