DUP attend British-Irish Inter Parliamentary talks

The DUP are to attend a meeting of the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body today in Killarney, after boycotting the body for the past 16-years.

At the meeting, the DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson is expected to state that the party will be ready to begin a peace process with Sinn Fein when they are sufficiently convinced that the IRA has moved from violence to democracy.

Four DUP delegates have made the trip to the Irish Republic to address the body, set up to strengthen British and Irish parliamentary links.

Although the party's return to the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body has been an historic move, the DUP remain adamant that it does not mean an end to the 16-year boycott.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary of State and the body's co-chairman, Paul Murphy, invited the DUP to attend today's session, which Taoiseach Bertie Ahern referred to as a "hugely important step."

Mr Ahern also added that progress had to made as under no circumstances could the November 24 deadline, for the restoration of the Northern Ireland assembly be compromised.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has said the DUP must be willing to share power with his party in order for progress to be made.

Speaking after a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain to discuss next month's recall of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time in three and a half years, Mr McGuinness welcomed the DUP's decision to meet with the British-Irish Inter Parliamentary Body and added that this was the next stage in the process for the DUP to join with Sinn Fein in forming a power-sharing government and that big decisions needed to be made.

The 68-member Body was established in 1990 as a direct link between the British and Irish government's.

The body was initially made up of 25 representatives from the upper and lower houses from both Westminster and the Dail, however in recent times it has been opened up to members from other British Isles governmental bodies.


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