A one-off opportunity

That’s how Tony Blair described the statement from the IRA that both Governments are insisting on waiting for. That’s a one-off opportunity.. with a credibility threshold.. hmmm..
Update Transcript of the relevant section of the press conference added Another Update Details from Joint Communiqué British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference added Final Update Link to transcript of joint press conference between PM Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern added.And if the opportunity is missed? Or the threshold ducked?

Will the Irish and British Governments continue with the current [and past?] strategy as described by Secretary of State for NI [and Wales – Ed] Peter Hain in an article in The Times –

But if you are going finally to crack the end of the process that culminated and then went beyond the Good Friday Agreement, these are the two parties[DUP and SF] that can most effectively deliver if they choose to do so.[added emphasis]

And if they choose not to? Is there a Plan B? Or will the Irish and British governments continue to replay the scene indefinitely?

Update With the BBC re-editing the original report.. sheesh.. I’m adding the relevant question, and answer, from the transcript of today’s press conference

Question: Prime Minister, just looking forward to your meeting with the Taoiseach this afternoon and the hope for an IRA statement sometime in the future, how difficult do you envisage it will be to persuade Unionists that Republicans are for real this time, considering what has happened in the past?

Prime Minister: I think it is going to be very difficult to persuade Unionism of the sincerity of any Republican move, which is why that move has got to be clear and bold, because then it will have to result, if the Republicans do give up violence once and for all, it will have to result in a proper power sharing executive in which the Republicans are able to take their place at the democratic table. So it is immensely important that they do make this move, I don’t know whether they will or not, but of course you know better than me that it would be daft to say after the events earlier this year that the credibility threshold was going to be easy to pass, but it can be passed, I am sure of that, if the IRA recognise that this is a one-off opportunity to accept what is now inevitable, which is that the only way that you are ever going to be able to pursue the cause that people believe in in Northern Ireland from the Republican point of view is peacefully, it won’t happen any other way. And political progress has achieved a lot in Northern Ireland, but we have got to go on and make it achieve more. So it will be difficult, but on the other hand if it is done, and it is done genuinely and violence is genuinely given up, then the obligation then transfers to Unionists to make sure that they drop their opposition to going into a power sharing executive, and that is the situation really.[emphasis added]

Another Update A Joint Communiqué British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, referred to in the above question, was issued this afternoon – full communiqué here

On the “Review of political developments” the Intergovernmental conference had this to say –

Both Governments reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. It remains the template for political progress in Northern Ireland.

The Conference reviewed recent political developments, including the results of the Westminster and local government elections in early May and contacts since then with the parties in Northern Ireland. The Conference acknowledged that all political parties with significant electoral mandates had important contributions to make in advancing progress and looked forward to continued dialogue with each of them.

The Conference agreed that any prospect of restoring devolved government on an inclusive basis was dependent on the rebuilding of the necessary trust and confidence. This required the IRA to definitively end all paramilitary and criminal activity and to fully and verifiably decommission its weapons. In the context of such an outcome being secured and verified by the IICD and IMC, it would expect all parties to fully play their part in the restoration of devolved and inclusive government in Northern Ireland and in the operation of all of the institutions of the Agreement.

That would appear to build into the ‘credibility threshold’ the Independent Monitoring Commission’s report[s?]

Final Update Transcript of joint press conference between PM Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern available here.

I’ll just highlight this question –

Question: Prime Minister, Taoiseach, are you both in agreement that you don’t require the disbandment per se of the IRA, and secondly how would you characterise your own relationship working together given recent speculation?

Prime Minister: Well, on the latter point, look there is a different position on the Common Agricultural Policy for very obvious reasons and the Taoiseach is, as you might expect and rightly so, is a very strong advocate of the Irish national interest. I have got to protect the British national interest. So there have been different positions on the CAP, but it is a relationship that has stood the test of time over the past few years and has worked extremely well and will continue to do so. And the interpreter’s box here is for the Iraqi Prime Minister. I hasten to say that. I was a bit alarmed when I saw that actually when I came in.

On the first point which is to do with the form of disbandment. Look let us be very clear, otherwise you get into verbal battles which are not what is important. What is important is that the Republican movement pursues its aim by exclusively democratic and peaceful means, and that means an end to all violence and all preparations for violence. And therefore that means an organisation like the IRA moving into a different way of working, a different frame, a different modus operandi where it is no longer posing a threat of violence, or violence itself in the community in Northern Ireland. Now I think that is pretty clear and what language you use to describe how that happens is I think far less important than the blunt fact that you have got to have an end to violence in word and in deed.

Irish Prime Minister: And I think at the end of the day people will see very clearly whether we have achieved that or not and that is what matters. That violence and all the associated activities are over, then people will be immensely happy. And on the second part of your question I just want to wish the Prime Minister well for the Presidency ahead and for the G8 Meeting. I have had recent experience of it and regarding the CAP there are just a few million between us, but we will sort that out some other time.

That would appear to be something for everyone, then.. not that that approach hasn’t been tried before..