|05-06-2003, 09:42 AM||#1|
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Join Date: Dec 2001
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Good Friday Agreement/Peace Process.
What does everyone think of the latest discussions about the Good Friday Agreement? Mr. Blair is meeting with Bertie Ahern today for further discussions about the way forward for the peace process. Here's an article from GuardianUnlimited about the current situation.
Blair and Ahern bid to break deadlock
Staff and agencies
Tuesday May 6, 2003
Tony Blair is meeting the Irish Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, in Dublin today, in a bid to break the deadlock in the Northern Ireland peace process.
The latest attempts to restart the process were put on hold last week when the government postponed elections to the Stormont assembly scheduled from May 29 until the autumn.
Though the Irish government opposed the delay, it is understood that discussions between London and Dublin have continued since. The two governments are seeking to identify which parts of their blueprint for implementation of the Good Friday agreement can be implemented in the absence of further moves from the IRA.
The prime minister pinned responsibility for the postponement on the IRA for failing to give clear assurances that all forms of paramilitarism would end.
Despite two attempts by Sinn Fein's president, Gerry Adams, to stress that the IRA posed no threat to the agreement, the government demanded more guarantees that it would stop buying guns, gathering intelligence, targeting and punishment attacks.
David Trimble's Ulster Unionist party refused to go back into the devolved institutions - brought down last October amid allegations of republican spying - until the paramilitary organisation went out of business.
Along with postponing the elections, the government also published the joint British-Irish declaration which was due to form part of a deal along with an IRA statement.
The joint declaration contained commitments to slash troop levels in Northern Ireland by nearly 10,000, pull down military watchtowers in south Armagh and Belfast, and grant a virtual amnesty to on-the-run paramilitary prisoners.
The IRA leadership also vowed to release the statement it gave to the two governments nearly three weeks ago, after activists had been briefed on its contents.
Its political wing, Sinn Fein, strongly criticised the decision to postpone the elections. The party's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, said it was "nothing short of a betrayal of the peace process by the British government at the behest of unionist leaders".
He added: "The British prime minister, in taking his decision to refuse to hold the elections, and make it clear to the Ulster Unionist party that they should fight those elections on a pro-agreement agenda, effectively called a halt to the Good Friday agreement."
Mr McGuinness insisted it was now down to Mr Blair and Mr Ahern to rescue the peace process. "They have to tell us how they are going to sort out this mess and get the peace process back on track again," he said.
The talks between the two premiers will take place a day after dissident republicans were blamed for trying to bomb Belfast city centre.
The bomb, which contained three pipe bombs, three containers of fuel and a detonator and timer, was made safe by army bomb disposal experts, near to the route where thousands of people took part in the city's annual marathon. The marathon went ahead as planned after the all-clear was given.
Mr Blair will be greeted in Dublin's Phoenix Park at around 4pm by Mr Ahern; Irish foreign affairs minister, Brian Cowen; and justice minister, Michael McDowell. The talks are likely to see a demonstration by republicans furious at the decision of the British government to postpone the elections.
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