Belfast Telegraph

Parties to get revised deal blueprint

By Brian Walker, London Editor
25 November 2004

The British and Irish governments were due to make a prompt reply to scores of requests for clarification on their blueprint for restoring the Assembly, put to them yesterday by both Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness remained in London late last night to be on hand for further talks with officials.

Mr Paisley had submitted over 40 points in a six page document which had been analysed legally in advance, while the number of queries raised by Sinn Fein was apparently even greater.

In a determined effort to keep up the pressure for a settlement, Downing Street and Dublin were set to hand back the revised blueprint to the two leaders possibly later today.

Mr Paisley and Mr Adams were reporting on the work in progress to their party executives in Belfast and Dublin and would consult with smaller groups later if the governments' document did not arrive later today.

In spite of Mr Paisley's belief that "talk of deadlines is silly", the prime ministers are signalling that the deadline for making a settlement is about to be reached.

As the Taoiseach confirmed last night, he and Mr Blair will summon the leaders back on Monday or Tuesday of next week, to "make the judgment call" on whether a deal can be struck.

If the parties fail to agree, the prime ministers will publish their proposals for a deal and identify the reasons for failure.

The complexities have now essentially boiled down to the DUP's demand for photographic evidence over a major decommissioning act, while the IRA and Sinn Fein insist the agreed "modalities" are sufficient.

Furthermore, Ian Paisley is insisting that the republicans must "jump first" and provide convincing evidence of decommissioning.

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