Irish American Information Service


07/01/04 08:26 EST

The Reverend Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists must speak
directly to Sinn Fein if the problems in Northern Ireland's
peace process are to be resolved, a United States government
official claimed today.

As he prepared to meet members of the Strabane District
Policing Partnership, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, who is
President George Bush`s special envoy to Northern Ireland,
urged unionists and republicans to thrash out their
differences over the negotiating table.

He also claimed he was more encouraged about the prospect of
broader participation in policing after his discussions with
Sinn Fein and other parties in recent days.

"I have been very consistent on the issue of the DUP and
have said that they need to speak directly to Sinn Fein," Mr
Reiss said.

"If they have points of disagreement with Sinn Fein, then it
is better to address them through face-to-face meetings
rather than through the media. Dialogue must take place -
not just on a one-to-one basis but through extended
conversation. It is best to air differences sitting around
a table and that is what I will be saying to the DUP when I
meet them tomorrow."

Northern Ireland`s politicians are preparing for an
intensive push to restore devolution in the fall.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern warned last week after talks in London that, if they
failed to achieve a breakthrough in September, they may have
to stop paying Assembly members` salaries and find a new way
of running Northern Ireland.

Mr Paisley said last Friday that he detected a faint outline
of a possible deal to revive the Assembly and his party
would be submitting proposals this summer to move the
political process forward.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has, however, been critical of
the DUP`s failure to take part in direct dialogue with his
party and yesterday he accused Mr Paisley`s party of putting
the process on hold because their senior members were on

The West Belfast MP also dismissed suggestions that
republicans would be tested for a short period of time of
possibly six months on their commitment to the peace process
before power-sharing could be resumed.

"The periods of decontamination or of a verification or of
being tested - all of that has long since passed," Mr Adams
said in Belfast yesterday.

Mr Reiss said he was more optimistic about the prospects of
a deal to restore the Assembly than he had been previously.

"All the parties know what the issues are," he said.

"There is a greater sense of clarity about what needs to be
done to move forward. In my conversations with the
governments in London and Dublin there is a greater sense of
determination to move the ball over the goal-line."

Mr Bush`s envoy praised the role of district policing
partnership members in Northern Ireland in delivering
changes to the police service, saying they had shown great
determination and devotion despite receiving threats and
being attacked by some paramilitary groups.

He said during his visit to the Strabane DPP he would be
telling its members that Mr Bush continued to support their

Mr Reiss also said he was encouraged from his meetings in
Northern Ireland that the problems of policing could be

He said he hoped broader participation in policing in
Northern Ireland could be possible in the future.

"We still have a way to go but things are moving in the
right direction," he insisted.

"The point that is worth emphasising is that policing can
only prosper if the larger political framework is a success.
It is essential for Sinn Fein to participate in policing for
the political process to move forward. But I think that it
is absolutely essential that there has to be a definitive
and permanent end to paramilitary activity."

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?