Irish American Information Service


09/30/04 10:49 EST

The Democratic Unionist Party leader the Rev Ian Paisley has emerged from historic talks with the Taoiseach in Dublin demanding more action on the issue of IRA disbandment.

Dr Paisley was joined by his deputy, Mr Peter Robinson, while Mr Ahern was joined by Ireland's new Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, for the two-hour meeting this afternoon.

It is the first time Dr Paisley has travelled to Dublin for political talks.

Speaking outside Government Buildings, Dr Paisley said that during the meeting he and the Taoiseach "had a useful exchange of views regarding the problems at the present time."

Reading from a prepared statement he added: "Following on from the Leeds Castle talks we pledged that we would continue discussions on the political institutions and the necessity to bring about changes to them."

On one of the main obstacles to a peace deal - ministerial accountability - Dr Paisley said: "If we are to have a proper and ongoing basis, mutual co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland then it is essential that any relationship is accountable to the people of Northern Ireland through their elected representatives. Nobody has anything to fear from such an accountable North-South relationship of equal partnerships," he added.

Dr Paisley restating the DUP's view "the IRA must relinquish their guns and be out of business for good, as well as all other paramilitaries."

"There is no evidence to sugget that there is any IRA offer on the table at the present time and we have indicated to Mr Ahern that more work will be needed in this area. There will be no toleration of terror in any form," said Paisley.

Speaking as the DUP leader led his party delegation to meet with the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP said that it was important that the Irish government made it clear to the DUP that they would not be compromising the fundamental principles which underpined the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Doherty said: "While we obviously welcome the visit of the DUP to Dublin and the engagement with the Irish government today it is important that the DUP follow this change of direction up with direct dialogue with Sinn Féin. Direct and meaningful dialogue is the best way to ensure progress and forward movement in the time ahead."

"However since the Assembly election last year and during the recent talks at Leeds Castle the DUP have failed to convince any of the major pro-Agreement parities of the merits in their anti-Agreement position. The DUP are on record as stating that they wish to destroy the Good Friday Agreement. The Irish government are with the British government the co-guarantors of that Agreement and it is crucial that they make it clear to the DUP this afternoon that none of the fundamental principles which underpin the Good Friday Agreement are up for negotiation. Sinn Féin will not countenance changes to the Agreement which are aimed at diluting the power sharing and all-Ireland provisions and providing a basis for the return to unionist rule."

"It is important that the momentum created at Leeds Castle is built upon. The DUP are currently preventing this from happening. The two governments cannot allow this to continue and must move on. There can be no longer any excuse for delay and this must be made clear to the DUP," Doherty concluded.

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