22/09/2003

Murphy holds talks with political parties

Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Paul Murphy has held a series of political meetings with a number of political parties to discuss the ongoing peace process.

Representatives from Sinn Fein, SDLP and UKUP met Mr Murphy at Hillsborough as efforts continue to re-establish devolved government in Northern Ireland.

Speaking following today's meeting, Sinn Fein representative Alex Maskey said "a long number of outstanding matters" needed resolving before the current impasse could be overcome.

“Sinn Féin have for some time been involved in a series of discussions with the two governments aimed at resolving the current impasse in the peace process. This impasse has been caused by the suspension of the political institutions and the cancellation of the elections to the Assembly.

“Much of the focus has clearly been on getting the British government to announce a definite date for the elections to be held. But elections are only a part of what is required. There are a range of issues which need to be addressed and resolved. These include policing, human rights, justice and demilitarisation.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams today hit-out at press speculation over possible IRA "gestures or breakthroughs" following a recent meeting with Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble.

"I am very mindful that discussions between us, the two government's and the UUP are ongoing and sensitive," he said.

"However, the reality is that all of the participants in these discussions, including republicans, have crucial contributions to make to any resolution."

Northern Ireland's devolved administration was suspended in October 2002 amid allegations of IRA intelligence gathering at Stormont.

(MB)

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