‘Risk is necessary for peace process’

06 November 2004
By Ann Cahill, Europe Correspondent

ALL the North’s political parties must be prepared to take risks to complete the current phase of the peace process, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern warned yesterday after meeting the British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Brussels.
Both men spent more than an hour reviewing the progress made in the past week and discussing what alternative actions could be taken if there is no agreement by November 25.

Mr Ahern has warned policing, north and south cooperation, cultural and other measures agreed by the governments will go ahead irrespective of all parties reaching agreement.

“Everyone has to be prepared to take risks to reach the next phase.

“At this advanced stage of the peace process, if there is a will, it can be done.

“The risks are not unmanageable for any party and, if they want to do it, they can,” said Mr Ahern.

Both governments have agreed they will resist efforts by the DUP to postpone further agreement until after the elections to Westminster next year.

Mr Ahern and Mr Blair discussed the recent IMC report on violence committed in the past six months that showed shootings were down by 42%.

There were no murders committed by the Provisional IRA while punishment beatings and attacks by them had reduced.

Loyalist activity is responsible for 75% of the total violence, which is a reverse of the situation in the past.

The report said they were responsible for three times the number of shootings and twice the number of assaults perpetrated by nationalists.

Officials from both governments will meet in London next week to finalise their positions. A meeting with the North’s parties will take place after. [ FRONT PAGE ] [ BACK ]

© Thomas Crosbie Media, 2004.

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