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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 18:44 GMT
Alliance anger at latest talks
David Ford
Mr Ford said he could not get answers to his questions
One of Northern Ireland's political parties has described its talks with the British and Irish governments as "extremely angry".

Alliance leader David Ford said neither NI Secretary Peter Hain nor Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern gave them answers about how they would proceed.

Later, UUP leader Sir Reg Empey emerged from the talks and said the public were "fed up" with the suspended assembly.

He said his party would not be going to "any country estates for more talks".

Sir Reg also claimed the Democratic Unionists had not only failed to stop concessions to Sinn Fein but suggested they were getting more, citing the on-the-runs issue and the review of public administration.

After his round of talks, Mr Ford said Mr Hain could not say why the DUP was the only party consulted on the victims' commissioner.

"Annoyed"

Mr Ford said the ministers would also not say why they were not looking for "a balanced legal way" of dealing with the on-the-runs and why the public administration review was "a sectarian carve-up of Northern Ireland".

"I suspect that the only value of the meeting will be if it causes ministers to wonder why their recent behaviour has so annoyed a cross-community political party like Alliance, which is committed to moving this society forward in partnership," he said.

An SDLP delegation also met the two ministers at Hillsborough Castle.

Speaking afterwards, party leader Mark Durkan claimed that Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams knew that on-the-run legislation would also apply to members of the security forces accused of crimes.

Mr Durkan accused Sinn Fein of making "a calculated trade-off".

"They sold out the relatives that they claimed to be championing so that they could deliver the greater advantage, as they saw it, to republicans who were on-the-run," he said.

He said that if Mr Adams really had objections to the legislation, he could join with all the other Northern Ireland parties in opposing it.

Mr Hain refused to be drawn on the claims but he said that the government would "listen very carefully to any constructive amendments" that were brought before the bill becomes law.

'Stock taking'

The two ministers began talks on political development with some parties earlier this month.

However, the DUP declined to take part, saying the governments already knew its position.

Issues tabled for discussion include parades, policing and restorative justice.

It is understood the talks are about "stock taking and ground clearing".

The ministers wish to establish the parties' positions before further discussions in the new year.

Sinn Fein, the PUP and UKUP parties attended the first round of meetings on 11 November.

The DUP held a "forthright meeting" with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern in Dublin last week.




SEE ALSO:
Talks on NI political development
14 Nov 05 |  Northern Ireland


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