Monday 25 September 2017

Deadlock in NI talks must be resolved: Flanagan

Charlie Flanagan
Charlie Flanagan
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has insisted the Government will take all necessary steps to ensure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Flanagan was responding to a statement by Gerry Adams that the power-sharing administration in the North is facing its "greatest threat" in years.

The Sinn Fein leader warned that the political process is "in trouble" and is now facing "its greatest challenge since the Good Friday Agreement negotiations in 1998".

Mr Adams also accused unionists of failing to engage positively in political negotiations surrounding contentious flags, parades and dealing with the toxic legacy of thousands of deaths during the conflict.

Dialogue between both sides has been stalled in a unionist protest over the handling of a loyal order parade in North Belfast. Mr Adams called on both the Irish and British governments to do more to solve what he described as a "political crisis".

Responding last night, a spokesperson for Mr Flanagan said that resolving the issues in the North remains a key priority for the Government. The spokesperson said Mr Flanagan immediately phoned Northern Ireland's Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, to discuss the difficulties in the North as soon as he was appointed to office.


"This has been a priority for the minister from day one and it will continue to be so," the spokesperson said.

Mr Adams made the warning in a so-called 'keynote statement' released yesterday.

He criticised DUP leader Peter Robinson for not showing enough progressive leadership and claimed that the power-sharing government at Stormont has been undermined.

Sinn Fein and the DUP, the two largest parties in the coalition, have been at loggerheads over welfare reform and plans for a peace centre at the site of a former high-security prison near Belfast. The Government here has said it hopes talks can resume next month. But Mr Adams said the stance of unionists meant there was no likelihood of negotiations resuming.

Mr Adams told the BBC: "The crisis is clearly a political crisis but the fact is citizens need to have confidence in the political institutions and because one of the biggest parties, the biggest party in the Executive (DUP), is not committed to what it signed up to when it went into government with Sinn Fein and the other parties, that confidence is being eroded."

Irish Independent

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