17/12/2004

Efforts redoubled to restore Assembly says Murphy

The Government has vowed to redouble efforts to bring about the restoration of the devolved institutions, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Paul Murphy has said.

Speaking after a series of meetings at Hillsborough Castle between the two Governments and Northern Ireland’s political parties, Mr Murphy said that everyone remains committed to the restoration of the Assembly.

The Secretary of State said: “The Governments intend to redouble our efforts to bring about a restoration of those institutions because we believe that is what the people of Northern Ireland want us to do.”

Mr Murphy described the meetings at Hillsborough as "useful" with a number of ideas emerging over the issue of transparent decommissioning.

He said: “There were some very detailed ideas on how we might deal with the transparency issue which parties gave us. Now what we have to do is distil these ideas and let the Prime Ministers know what they are and take them from there.”

Speaking after a DUP delegation met with the Secretary of State and the Irish Foreign Minister at Hilsborough, the DUP leader Ian Paisley said: “The aspects of the comprehensive agreement which we have negotiated were in the context of there being complete verifiable and transparent decommissioning which would convince the community that the IRA and its weapons were gone for ever.

“Anything less than complete verifiable and transparent decommissioning will clearly have implications for other elements of the comprehensive agreement.”

However, Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has said that the DUP refusal to accept the willingness of the IRA to deal with concerns within unionism, including the issues of arms and activities, could not be allowed to paralyse the process of change set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Kelly said: “The DUP cannot be allowed to paralyse the process of change set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

“If that means moving on then there is a responsibility on the two governments to do so. Sinn Féin want the DUP to be part of the peace process; we want the door to be kept open for them, but we cannot wait while they come to terms with the political realties of the 21st century.

“The process of change must continue,” he concluded.

(MB/SP)

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