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04/01/2006

Taoiseach to take part in Northern Ireland talks

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has today announced that he is to hold talks with the country's Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern on the future of the Northern Ireland political process.

The Irish Foreign Minister said there would be "a lot of activity" in relation to the political process in the near future.

"We have to prepare the ground. We are up for this and we just hope the political parties in the north are up for it as well," he said.

He also spoke of the importance of the impending IMC report on paramilitary activity in terms of "proving beyond all doubt that the IRA has gone."

Mr Dermot Ahern said that he was aware that Secretary of State, Peter Hain would be meeting Prime Minister Tony Blair this week and he hoped that they would be working together to make progress by the end of the year.

Yesterday, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams released a statement saying that politicians must make a genuine effort to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2006.

Mr Adams said there were major challenges ahead - particularly for the government and unionists.

"Sinn Fein is determined that the opportunities presented by the IRA initiative are not squandered. There still are major challenges ahead particularly for both the British government and the unionist parties.

“The process has been allowed to be stalled for too long and the time for movement has now come.”

However, in response to Mr Adams statement, DUP MP Iris Robinson said there would be no return to the failed structures of the past.

"The structures of the Belfast Agreement did not provide good government for the people of Northern Ireland," she said.

(EF/SP)

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