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Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Ahern warns of 'unnecessary crisis'
Tony Blair met with Bertie Ahern in County Down in July
Mr Blair has pledged to address the ceasefire issue
Northern Ireland's power-sharing executive here must be kept going despite the current political difficulties, the Irish prime minister has said.

Bertie Ahern warned Tony Blair against creating "unnecessary crisis" by satisfying unionist demands to remove Sinn Fein.

The prime minister is due to make a statement on the IRA and loyalist ceasefires next week.

Unionists are calling on the government to exclude Sinn Fein from the executive.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair: Pledged to rebuild confidence in the process

However, Mr Ahern said that was not the answer.

"I think whatever Tony Blair says next week should be about keeping things going, in my view, and keeping things successfully going but warning people that we do not want any violence," said Mr Ahern.

"The important thing is that we continue to keep the institutions in place and to work our way through whatever difficulties are there.

"I do not accept or believe that the institutions are doing other than a good job - there are always tensions and difficulties."

"The one thing that we should not do is create a crisis - an unnecessary crisis - and while there are difficulties and some tensions I think they will be there for a generation and what we need to do is manage things as they go."

Tougher line

Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged to rebuild confidence in the Northern Ireland process after talks with the pro-Agreement parties and Irish premier Bertie Ahern at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, earlier this month.

It is not clear exactly what Mr Blair intends to do, to show that the government is taking a tougher line on paramilitaries.

However, he said he would put forward proposals to the parties before parliament goes into recess on 24 July.

Gerry Adams, West Belfast MP
Adams: Accused David Trimble of making "impossible demands"

On Friday, the Sinn Fein president said he feared the prime minister was moving towards the unionist demand to redefine the IRA ceasefire.

Gerry Adams said the Good Friday Agreement would only work if the rights of all sections of the electorate were upheld.

Mr Adams said the rights of Sinn Fein voters were not an option or privilege to be withheld at the behest of another political party.

He accused the Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, of making impossible demands, and continuously trying to renegotiate the Agreement.

He said this was because of infighting within unionism.

The Ulster Unionist leadership wants the government to acknowledge there is a law and order problem, involving both loyalist and republican paramilitaries.

Ulster Unionists are also demanding that Sinn Fein, as members of the power-sharing executive, be held to account for any breaches of the IRA ceasefire.

See also:

19 Jul 02 | N Ireland
05 Jul 02 | N Ireland
30 Jun 02 | N Ireland
19 Jun 02 | N Ireland
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