Belfast Telegraph

Adams' joint authority plan a non-runner: Rabbitte

15 November 2004

The Irish constitution prevents Dublin from entering into joint authority over Northern Ireland with the British Government, the leader of the Irish Labour party said today.

Pat Rabbitte said the proposal - backed by Sinn Fein in case the present round of talks fails - would be unconstitutional and described it as "a non-runner".

He said Dublin "could no more share with Britain authority for the governance of Northern Ireland than we could for Pitcairn Island."

The British and Irish governments are expected to hand the Northern Ireland parties their joint proposals for progress later this week.

The London-Dublin plan is expected because the parties have been unable to agree on a format that would allow the Assembly and Executive to be revived at Stormont.

But if those proposals fail, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has advocated joint authority.

In New York earlier this month, Mr Adams said that "until unionists are prepared to work with the rest of us as equals, the two governments must drive the process of change forward,

"How? It's not just parties who can share power. Governments can share power also."

But in today's Irish Times, Mr Rabbitte stated that he will ask Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to address the issue in the Dail this week.

Mr Rabbitte said Article 3 of the Irish constitution - which was revised after the Good Friday Agreement led the Republic to drop its territorial claim to Northern Ireland - prevents joint authority.

"Joint authority is a non-runner because it would be unconstitutional," Mr Rabbitte wrote.

"Pending national unification, laws enacted by the Oireachtas apply only within the jurisdiction of this 26-county state. The Supreme Court confirmed in 1975 that the Oireachtas is not free to legislate for Northern Ireland as though it were part of this State. The amended Articles 2 and 3 have abandoned the 'territorial claim' and place that incapacity beyond doubt."

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