TWENTY DAYS FOR DEAL - AHERN
The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, has warned there are
only 20 days left to break the current impasse in the North's
peace process or else it is in danger of "drifting out".
Speaking in the Dublin parliament today, Mr Ahern set a deadline
of November 26th to restore the executive and assembly in the Six
Counties -- the anniversary of last year's
If agreement cannot be reached by all parties the Taoiseach said
the two governments "will find another way to move this
"If we go past the 25th of November the two governments will
have to look at what's the best way to continue. That will be
the key part of our meeting in Brussels next week," Mr Ahern
The Taoiseach will meet British Prime Minister Mr Blair at the
European Council meeting in Brussels later this week.
Arguments between nationalists and Ian Paisley's DUP over
powersharing and the future of the Good Friday agreement
escalated yesterday with no sign of common ground emerging.
Specifically, nationalists want the British and Irish
governments to get some straight answers from the DUP on
powersharing both at local government level and in a restored
Unionists have tonight set out a series of conditions to be
satisfied in any restored Belfast administration. The DUP called
* Executive office only for those demonstrably and irreversibly
detached from armed paramilitary organisations and criminal
* An effective mechanism to exclude any who subsequently breach
the practice of exclusively peaceful and democratic means.
* The Assembly as the elected forum must have the capacity to
call executive members to account, both in the exercise of
executive functions and cross-border responsibilities.
Senior Paisleyite Gregory Campbell insisted earlier that his
party believed the Good Friday Agreement is "over", associating
the agreement with "humiliation and failure".
Mr Campbell said that unionists were not going to be "bullied".
"It is only when structural changes are implemented will there
be a settlement in Northern Ireland," he said.
"The assembly, any new executive and individual ministers must
become more accountable, the east-west axis must be given the
same status to any north south relationship.
"The cultural identity of the pro-Union people must be offered
to the unionist community in all areas where nationalists and
republicans are still playing a desperate rearguard action."
He said that the strong message to Gerry Adams and Mark Durkan
is that there will be no turning back and "the Belfast agreement
era is over."
The SDLP and Sinn Fein have urged the British and Irish
governments to allow a return powersharing.
But Sinn Fein Vice President Pat Doherty today said that recent
moves by the DUP indicate that they appear to be moving
backwards away from a deal.
Mr Doherty said Campbell's statement was an indication that DUP
leaders were "still locked onto their anti-Agreement agenda".
He also pointed to last week's move in Castlereagh Council, when
the DUP Deputy leader Peter Robinson opposed power-sharing on
the divided council, He said this was "a very clear message that
the DUP have not yet made the transition from a party seeking
domination and power to a party comfortable with equality and
"This was followed up by a statement from Gregory Campbell
indicating that the DUP were still locked onto their
anti-Agreement agenda. The DUP claim to be democrats, yet they
continue to ignore the reality that the vast majority of people
on this island support the Good Friday Agreement.
"If a deal is to be done it will only be done on the basis of
the framework laid out in the Good Friday Agreement. There can
be no other way.
"Recent actions and comments from the DUP seem to indicate that
they are backing away from such a deal, uncomfortable with the
core fundamentals and principles which underpin the Agreement
and the process of change which flows from it."