» Monday, October 4, 2004

Northern Ireland

Asked for an update on Northern Ireland following the talks at Leeds Castle, the PMOS said that we were continuing to move in the right direction. However, the Prime Minister remained of the view that we needed to make progress sooner rather than later, which was why the contacts between ourselves and the Irish Government, and between the two Governments and the parties were ongoing. There was no specific timeframe at this stage. However, as the Prime Minister had said at Leeds Castle, there was now a basis to resolve the issue and move on. That view had not changed.

Asked if Gen Sir Mike Jackson had ‘jumped the gun’ by stating that troops could be pulled out of Northern Ireland before Christmas, the PMOS said that our position on normalisation had been made clear in a joint declaration over a year ago – we wanted it to happen as quickly as possible. However, it had to be done against a backdrop of an overall reduction in the threat level, which in turn would depend on reaching agreement regarding a complete end to paramilitary activity.

Asked if the Prime Minister had any plans to meet with the leaders of the Northern Ireland parties on his return from Africa, the PMOS said that we remained in contact with the parties, as you would expect.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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