RTÉ reports Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, has taken his turn with the big stick [more “unhelpful spin from some elements in Dublin”? – see comment 4, Ed]. Speaking to the British-Irish Association at Oxford University, and citing “a peaceful marching season, a stable security environment, provisional IRA decommissioning and signs of positive movement in loyalism”, Dermot Ahern checked his watch and warned that “the alternative to devolution in November would not be the shelving of the Good Friday Agreement but its fullest possible implementation with enhanced North South co-operation.” Signs of positive movement in loyalism? Maybe.. but only with public reassurances on the nature of that joint-stewardship.. oh, and don’t mention policing.. natch. Update International Herald Tribune has much more detail of the speeches More In the Irish Times Gerry Moriarty has quotes from Dermot Ahern’s speech[subs req]In those additional details, from the IHT report, are quotes from the speech, at the same event, by the DUP’s Gregory Campbell, who reportedly “said in his prepared remarks that Protestants would not cooperate with Sinn Fein until it ends its decades-old hostility to the Northern Ireland police. If that meant missing the deadline for months or even years, so be it”
He noted that Britain’s secretary of state for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, could well be moved from his post in the next British Cabinet reshuffle, an event likely when Prime Minister Tony Blair steps down.
“It is a total misreading of the history of the DUP to imagine that, having endured a terrorist war for 40 years in Northern Ireland, we are likely to be swayed by the threats of a secretary of state who may not even be around in a few months’ time,” Campbell said.
“I am under absolutely no pressure from my constituents to move before the time is right,” said Campbell, who listed his party’s conditions for agreement.
“From Sinn Fein and the IRA we require total (weapons) decommissioning, a complete end to paramilitary activity, a complete end to criminal activity, and an acceptance of and support for the rule of law,” he said.
And, Interestingly, the IHT report states that..
Ahern did not specify what the two governments would do in event of continued deadlock.
Further Update The Irish Times has quotes from Dermot Ahern’s speech
“The Taoiseach and Prime Minister Blair have made clear their intentions. If, by November 24th, a power-sharing Executive has not been formed, the two governments will bring forward partnership arrangements to ensure that the Good Friday agreement is actively developed across all its functions,” he added.
“As part of that they have also made clear their commitment to a step-change in North-South co-operation and action for the benefit of all,” he told the BIA, which is attended by British and Irish politicians and officials, academics, community representatives, clergy, journalists and others with an interest in the peace process.
“We are agreed on this and we are prepared to give practical expression to it. Of course, in the absence of devolved institutions, this will be less than everyone would wish. In a sense there will be no winners from this outcome. We will all lose, but none more so than the political parties in Northern Ireland,” Mr Ahern said.