» Monday, December 6, 2004

Northern Ireland

Asked what the latest news about the Belfast talks was, the PMOS said we were still aiming for the middle of this week. The parties were reflecting on their positions, and would come back with their responses when they were ready.

Asked if the Prime Minister would go only if there was a deal, the PMOS said they would let the people of Northern Ireland judge for themselves, no matter what the outcome. We obviously still hoped and believed a deal was possible, but people would have to wait and see.

Asked what the advice to the Prime Minister would be regarding the issue of photographing the decommissioning, the PMOS replied that until this point, he had not gone into detail regarding the negotiations, and he was not about to start. What he did say, however, was that any deal must reflect the criteria which were laid down by the Prime Minister in his Belfast Harbour Commission speech 2 years ago. The criteria were not only did there have to be complete and unequivocal commitment to power sharing, but also complete and unequivocal commitment, and actual end to all paramilitary activity and a complete verifiable process of decommissioning. Those were the criteria which both the parties and the public would have to judge any deal by. The PMOS said it would be better for people to wait for the details until the proposals are published, but it was important for the parties to take the time to reflect properly on what has been considerable progress over the past year.

Asked to clarify if the photographing of the decommissioning was a government proposal, as was suggested by Dr. Paisley, the PMOS said that we had not revealed what our proposals were, and it would therefore be premature to do so at this stage, but any decommissioning had to be verifiable.

Asked if the Prime Minister had any other Northern Ireland meetings scheduled, the PMOS replied there were none today, but we were in very close contact with all the parties at this stage.

Asked if there was going to be a referendum in Northern Ireland, the PMOS said that was not part of the discussion.

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

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