» Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Northern Ireland

Asked what was going to happen in the Northern Ireland talks later, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister and Taoiseach would make statements and answer press questions. The important thing was that people would be able to see the draft agreement for themselves, and that it would show how much progress had been made. The PMOS made clear that complete decommissioning, and the complete end to paramilitary activity were not at issue. Equally, there should be power sharing. While we were frustrated, and shared people’s frustration that the gap has not been narrowed even further, people could judge for themselves how much progress had been made in the past year.

Asked if there was any possibility that the IRA would relent and allow photographs to be taken, the PMOS answered that he did not speak for the IRA.

Asked about any hopes in the future for a deal to be made, the PMOS said that a gap was there, and though relatively small, would need to be closed. We needed to be sensitive to both sides. The DUP wanted to be certain that decommissioning was real, and that their could see that it had happened, whilst the IRA/Sinn Fein side did not want to feel that they had been humiliated. What everyone wanted was to find a way through those sensitivities – this had not happened as of today. What was important, however, was that neither government believed that this was the time to pause, and both were going to try and push it forward.

Asked if the Prime Minister had asked Dr. Paisley to relax his stance regarding the photographing of the decommissioning, the PMOS said people would see in the document to be released that there was a proposal that we believed would have been a fair compromise. We believed it would have allowed Unionists to be assured and see that decommissioning had happened, whilst also reassuring the Republicans that it was not an act of humiliation.

Asked what was wrong with humiliating people who had "made other people’s lives a misery over so many years", the PMOS replied that everyone recognised that bitterness about the past remained. The hard reality about Northern Ireland was that it would remain on all sides. The key question now was whether we could live with the fact that there had been a lot of pain and bitterness in the past, but still move forward. The Prime Minister believed that people in Northern Ireland, while in no way trying to forget the past or the lessons of the past, do want to move forward, and therefore we should try and allow that to happen. What had been seen, since the Good Friday Agreement, and especially in the last year, was that people did want to move forward. We now had a situation where Dr. Paisley had said that if he was certain that terrorism had come to an end, then he would recognise Sinn Fein’s election market. Similarly, the IRA had agreed to end terrorism and to decommissioning. He concluded that it was how we dealt with the past, and moved on.

Asked if the document would show all the points that were compromised, the PMOS confirmed how each of the parties involved were prepared to respond to the situation, i.e. what they had said and were prepared to commit to. It was a draft agreement, but all the elements were accepted, with the exception of one narrow issue.

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

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


December 2004
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Nov   Jan »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh