» Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Northern Ireland

Asked about developments ahead of the talks this week the PMOS said as yesterday he could not overstate the importance of this week’s talks and by the end of the week it would be decided if a final settlement would be possible; but that the Government realised that there is any amount of detail could trip up talks.  On the central issues of whether the Unionists are prepared to share power and whether Republicans will support policing the PMOS said that the Government believe it is a matter of how and when, not if. It was a matter of sequencing, not principle. 

Asked about Dr. Paisley’s comments on Peter Hain, that the Unionists have been oversold the IMC Report the PMOS said that Dr. Paisley was of course entitled to express his view, but the PMOS reiterated that the IMC Report was an objective assessment of the situation on the ground and para 5 (ii) of the report clearly sets out the IMC’s view of the fundamental change in the IRA in the past three years, but there was nothing further to add at this time.  When asked if Dr. Paisley was not accepting the report, if that was surely an obstacle to the talks reaching an agreement on Friday, the PMOS said that that is not what Dr. Paisley had said, but highlighted that the important thing is that the DUP said at the time the report was published, and have since not contradicted this, that they saw the IMC Report as marking progress and that they saw that progress as a of result of their position.  The PMOS said he would not predict the outcome of the talks, but said that the Unionist now accept that it is a matter of how and when they will share power, not if.  Republicans now accept it is a matter of how and when they support policing, not if.  This was a fundamental change from where they were.   

Asked about the when of the how and when, was there a deadline, the PMOS said if the journalist wanted to focus on the negative they could but progress had been made and suggested journalists wait for Friday afternoon’s conclusions.  Asked if the Prime Minister had got Dr. Paisley a golden wedding present the PMOS suggested that any issues regarding gifts received should be left to Dr. and Lady Paisley to discuss.  

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

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