Sinn Fein News, September 6, 2006
Hain confirms "intensive" talks conference
British Direct Ruler Peter Hain confirmed yesterday that Intensive political
talks involving Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern will be held outside Six
Counties next month. Media reports have indicated that the talks will be
held at a hotel at St Andrews in Scotland.
Putting pressure on the DUP, Mr Hain stressed there was "no question" of an
extension to the 24 November deadline for restoring devolution. "This will
be a working conference of intense negotiations. This is not some kind of
stately home exercise for its own sake", Mr Hain added.
Sinn Féin yesterday called on the two governments to set out clearly a
timetable for the restoration of the political institutions governing the 12
week period up to November 24th. They said a credible work plan is essential
and that the two day negotiations session outside Ireland will only be
meaningful if it is part of such a planned approach.
The only party opposed to the restoration of the political institutions is
the DUP. Sinn Féín said they are ready and willing to go back into a fully
functioning Assembly and Executive in the morning. The only blockage is
anti-Agreement stance of Ian Paisley and his party.
Daily Ireland, September 6, 2006
Editorial: Extend deadline and lose credibility
Direct-rule secretary of state Peter Hain yesterday confirmed that political
talks between the Northern parties would be held outside Ireland next month.
He also confirmed that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British prime minister
Tony Blair would also be present.
Mr Hain once more stressed that there was no question of an extension to the
November 24 deadline for the restoring of devolution.
There is a lot of scepticism among the general public at the very idea of
politicians once more heading off to an English or Scottish castle for
another weekend of intense talks and the usual pressure from both
Mr Hain yesterday said that getting away from the ďday-to-day issues and
daily pressures that face all politiciansĒ would concentrate minds and
thatís the reason the talks would take place in England or Scotland.
Unfortunately Mr Hain seems to have conveniently forgotten that the main
stumbling block to political progress in the North is the DUP and that
partyís procrastination over recent years.
Of course the DUP would not have been able to get away with its delaying
tactics if it had not have been for the British government which has
pandered to their every demand since the DUP became the biggest unionist
party after the last two elections. As a result few are holding out much
hope for the planned talks.
The atmosphere hasnít been helped either by the belief that Blair is seen
more and more as a lame duck prime minister who is seeing out his last days.
Yesterday, as Mr Hain was briefing the press 17 Labour MPs, who were
previously seen as loyal to Mr Blair, signed a letter calling on him to
resign. A second letter calling for his immediate departure is also doing
Whether Mr Blair goes before Christmas or holds out until next summer
remains to be seen.
But with Blairís position unclear itís difficult to see how pressure can be
put on the DUP to share power with Sinn Féin, even without the political
cover that party has been given in the past by the Independent Monitoring
Commission (IMC), whose next report has already been billed as being
favourable to republicans.
With a general election planned for the South no later than May next year,
there is now very little wriggle room for both governments and the Northern
parties to finally restore the power-sharing government and the cross border
With a new rates hike, water rates and more everyday decisions being made
over the head of local politicians, itís now time for unionists to realize
thatís itís time to reach a political accommodation.
Whatever happens in the coming months, the two governments must stick to the
November 24 deadline.
An extension of that deadline would see both governments and the peace
process lose all credibility.