» Monday, February 21, 2005

Northern Ireland

Asked if Paul Murphy would comment any further tomorrow about putting sanctions on Sinn Fein, the PMOS said the IMC had said two things. One was that it recognised that when dealing with a robbery on such a scale as this was, financial sanctions etc seemed relatively paltry in comparison to the size of the robbery. However, it thought that sanctions did have a role in expressing disapproval. No doubt Paul Murphy would want to reflect that balance in his response to the IMC’s report. At the same time as doing nothing to divert attention from the substance of where we were, which was saying to the IRA and Sinn Fein that the time had now come for a choice to be made: either be involved in politics or criminality and paramilitary activity. They could not do both.

Asked if the Government agreed with the Irish Justice Minister that the IRA council and army included the two principal leaders of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness, the PMOS replied what we had consistently said was that we believed that the IRA and Sinn Fein were inextricably linked. That clearly had implications at leadership level as well. We had never wavered in our view that there were inextricable links between the two.

Asked if Sinn Fein were still committed to a democratic state, the PMOS relied that we hoped that they were. We believed that it was only if they were that there was any possibility of a deal involving Republicans. However, there had to be a clear choice made between the paramilitary and criminal past and a democratic future. What we had always said was that we would help Republicans make that transition, but that transition must come to an end. The united view in Ireland was that the period of transition was over, and the time for choice was now.

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

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