» Monday, September 18, 2006

Northern Ireland Talks

Asked about the intensive talks with the parties, the PMOS said that there had been a very good meeting with the Taoiseach at Chequers on Friday. Looking ahead there were two main points to think about. We had clearly approached the run up to this period in a very methodical way. We had had two Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) reports; the next one would be in early October, which gave a picture of what was not happening in regard to IRA activity. He did not want to pre-empt the October report, but the summer had been the quietest summer since 1970. That gave some indication of the transformation that had happened. The IMC would spell that out in greater detail. On the other point we had seen, on a practical level, co-operation with the police from right across the community. This was just as important.

There was a judgement to be made about whether it was going to be possible to find such a window of opportunity again, such as the one we now had. There was always the temptation to delay taking decisions, but if people actually looked at what was happening – now was the best window for real progress. In the Republic there was the build up to an expected election next year and if people considered the political timetable on this side of the Irish Sea it did seem that this was the best opportunity if we were going to move things forward. If we did not move now it would be difficult to find such an opportunity again given the political analysis that most people subscribed to.

At the end of the day, however, it would be the political parties that had to take those decisions. We would not get into the business of predicting how things would move forward. We would continue to be methodical in our approach and the intensive talks that would take place in Scotland from 11-13th October would be part of that. We would, however, not be speculating on the exact location or details yet. Operational information would follow in due course.

Asked what those timing issues were, the PMOS said that Peter Hain had last week talked about the unique commitment to Northern Ireland of this Prime Minister and his desire to move the political track forward. The PMOS would not get into the business of forecasting what would happen once this Prime Minister had departed, but it was a fact that people recognised the special role he had, and continued, to play. Therefore the combination of having the experience of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair, who were both very focussed on this issue this autumn, provided a very real opportunity.

Asked if he was suggesting that whoever took over would face a much harder task with the Northern Ireland peace process, the PMOS said that he could not talk for whoever succeeded the Prime Minister, but what had been built up by the two current Prime Ministers was a body of experience and knowledge which combined with where we were in the process meant that this was an especially unique window. Peter Hain and the Taoiseach had both warned over the weekend that they could not see this type of window of opportunity coming together again. That was the negative way to look at it. The positive view of that to consider whether we had answered the concerns about paramilitary activity and policing that addressed concerns from both sides. We would be in a better position to answer this after the next IMC report and after the period of intensive discussion.

Briefing took place at 8:00 | 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...


September 2006
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Aug   Oct »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh