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
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
"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
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
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."