Govts to move St Andrews process forward
The Dublin and London governments announced today they would draw up
legislation to implement the St Andrews proposals to revive power
sharing in the North of Ireland.
Following the responses of parties in the North to the proposals,
British Direct Ruler Peter Hain and Minister for Foreign Affairs
Dermot Ahern issued a statement saying: "When we concluded our talks
at St Andrews in October we asked the parties to reflect on the
agreement, to consult with their membership on the proposed way
forward and to confirm their acceptance by November 10th.
"These consultations are now complete and the Governments have
contact with the parties.
"We are satisfied from these contacts that the St Andrews Agreement,
implemented in good faith, represents the basis for a political
"That settlement must rest on the two foundations of support for
power-sharing and the political institutions and support for policing
and the rule of law.
"Securing these objectives remains the priority of the two Governments
and of everyone in Northern Ireland.
"We will now proceed to ensure full implementation of the St Andrews
Agreement and the British government will bring forward legislation to
give effect to the Agreement.
"There is much to be done and there is a responsibility on all
their part. We will work actively with the parties to complete this
task and clear the way for a new era for the people of Northern
Last night the DUP issued a non-committal statement on the St Andrews
process. Following a meeting in Castlereagh on the outskirts of
Belfast, a resolution was passed neither backing nor rejecting the
agreement. Earlier this week, Sinn Fein confirmed it would follow the
course set out in the proposals presented by the two governments
following intensive negotiations in Scotland last month.
However, the DUP warned last night there would be "adverse
implications" for the timetable laid out at St Andrews if Sinn Fein
not quickly support the PSNI police and the [British] rule of law.
No dates were set down in the St Andrews proposals for Sinn Fein to
support the police or for the transfer of policing and justice powers
from London to Belfast, two of several key issues which remain to be
The DUP said: "As Sinn Fein is not yet ready to take the decisive
forward on policing, the DUP will not be required to commit to any
aspect of power sharing in advance..."
This threatens to undo the governments' timetable, which calls for the
inauguration of DUP leader Ian Paisley as First Minister alongside
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister by November 24.
The date has been described as an "absolute and immovable" deadline
before the back-up 'Plan B' is set in motion. This is understood to
provide for a series of steps towards joint authority of the Six
Counties by the two governments.
In a speech to Irish American supporters in New York last night, Mr
Adams confirmed there were still issues around policing to be resolved
before he could recommend a special party conference [Ard Fheis].
"I have made clear that when the British government and the DUP
conclude with us in a satisfactory way on the outstanding policing
issues, I will go to the Sinn Fein ardchomhairle and seek a special
ardfheis," he said.