11/07/2001

STILL NO BREAKTHROUGH IN WESTON PARK TALKS

HOPES that a breakthrough in talks could be brokered were dampened on Wednesday with Northern Ireland’s political leaders offering grim summaries of the proceedings at Weston Park in Staffordshire.

David Trimble left the unscheduled third day of talks early on Wednesday morning to attend prior engagements in Northern Ireland saying that he was not encouraged by the negotiations but that he hoped republicans would be forthcoming over the decommissioning issue.

Speaking as he arrived at Weston Park, Mr Trimble said: “I have difficulty thinking of any issue where republicans are willing to make progress, but they know and everybody knows that there is one issue in this whole agreement on which no progress has been made in the last three years, indeed one could say the last eight years.

“Our main feeling today is one of disappointment that despite the efforts of so many other parties there has been such a poor response from the republicans and they haven’t been prepared to face up to their obligations under the Agreement or even to fulfil the promises they have made.”

Seamus Mallon offered a similar overview of events, he said: “We are now getting to the end of negotiations and I would hope people will show the type of line that they intend to take. If people wish to make a success of this there will have to be additional decisions taken in relation to decommissioning, policing and other issues.”

Sinn Féin has said that face-to-face talks with the British and Irish governments were “useful and constructive”. However Gerry Adams said that his party had no new cards to play on the decommissioning issue and his party would not bow to unionist pressure in making it the sole issue left to be discussed.

Talks are expected to resume on Friday in order to allow unionists to take part in Thursday’s 12 July Orange Order demonstrations in Northern Ireland. (AMcE)

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