**For several days, Blogger has had some kind of problem which makes posting at certain times impossible, and then I lose track of which stories are missing, as I post to about 4 different locations. You might check at the alternate site for yesterday, but here is one that didn't get posted:


Sinn Fein to hold talks with Ulster police chief

28/11/2004 - 9:50:50 PM

Sinn Fein is to hold ground breaking talks with Northern Ireland’s most senior policeman Hugh Orde, the party announced tonight.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams will lead a delegation from the party for a meeting in London with the PSNI Chief Constable and Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss plans to scale back security fortifications in Northern Ireland.

Party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said: “There are a number of matters which need to be resolved in the current negotiations.

“One of those is the key issue of demilitarisation.”

Sinn Fein stressed tonight that the meeting would focus on an accelerated programme of scaling down fortifications in the event of a deal - but would not deal with the issue of policing.

Mr McLaughlin said: “Sinn Fein has consistently argued for the need for an immediate and accelerated programme of demilitarisation.

“This is a vital part of the peace process and it is a vital part of the unfinished business of the Good Friday Agreement.

“It is time for the British Government to move speedily towards the resolution of this matter.”

The Foyle Assembly member continued: ``It is a critical issue for nationalist Ireland.

“Previously Mr Blair has told us that the responsibility for demilitarisation rests with the Chief Constable.

“Sinn Fein is meeting him with Mr Blair in order to press the case for the end of the military occupation of republican heartlands and to test his commitment to bring that about.

“There will be no discussion on policing issues at tomorrow’s meeting.”

The meeting at Downing Street will take place as Democratic Unionist leader the Rev Ian Paisley holds talks with the head of Northern Ireland’s independent disarmament body, General John de Chastelain.

Talks to restore devolution in Northern Ireland are delicately poised, with the Irish and British Governments still waiting for Sinn Fein and the DUP to indicate whether they will sign up to their proposals to bring back power sharing and remove the gun forever from politics.

Earlier, Mr Adams revealed that in a phone conversation with US President George W Bush tonight he had told him that the White House’s assistance could be needed to help all sides strike a deal.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland tonight confirmed the meeting with Sinn Fein was going ahead.

However, it insisted that the policing issue would be on the agenda because it was interlinked with demilitarisation.

“The Chief Constable is meeting with the Prime Minister and the Sinn Fein leader to discuss policing,” a spokesperson said.

“The Chief Constable has said he will meet anyone who has a positive contribution to make towards policing in Northern Ireland.”

The Taoiseach Mr Bertie Ahern has this evening welcomed the planned meeting tomorrow between the British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, Chief Constable, Mr Hugh Orde and Sinn Féin.

Ahern noted that this will be the first occasion that Sinn Féin will meet with the Chief Constable.

Mr Ahern said that this meeting is another important step in seeking to achieve a positive outcome to current peace efforts.

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