Fresh effort to break NI impasse

The Stormont government has been suspended since 2002

A fresh round of political talks is due to begin in Northern Ireland in an effort to unblock the impasse and restore devolved government.

Secretary of State Paul Murphy will host talks with the parties at Stormont on Wednesday, and they will concentrate on issues arising out of a review of the Good Friday Agreement.

The discussions will pave the way for intensive negotiations to be chaired by the British and Irish prime ministers at Leeds Castle in Kent later this month.

The political institutions in the province were suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at the Northern Ireland Office.

The Irish Foreign Minister, Brian Cowen, will also be at Stormont later on Wednesday for the talks.

The talks mark an early return to public life for DUP leader Ian Paisley after a recent spell in hospital.
A day after he chaired two party meetings at Stormont, he will lead his party's delegation at discussions with Mr Murphy.

Paul Murphy met the DUP delegation at Hillsborough Castle

The DUP and Sinn Fein have maintained high-level contacts with both governments over the summer.

A spokesman for Tony Blair said on Tuesday he believed there was a "shared agenda" between the parties which could lead to a deal.

The Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, will not be at Stormont for the talks as he is at the Republican Party convention in New York.

The Ulster Unionists withdrew from the review of the Agreement, saying the focus should be on ending paramilitarism, but they have now indicated they will take a full part in the main talks.

On Tuesday, SDLP leader Mark Durkan accused the British Government of damaging the Good Friday Agreement by focusing on extremist elements threatening the political process.

Mr Durkan also urged the IRA to move into a "disarmament" phase and back words with action.

Also on Tuesday, an Ulster Unionist delegation held talks with Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen in Dublin.

Afterwards, Sir Reg Empey said people were "bored, fed up and tired" with the current impasse because issues such as rates, water charges and jobs were put on the back burner.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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