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Thursday, 31 October, 2002, 22:20 GMT
Government has 'no NI plan'
NI Secretary Paul Murphy is to meet all the parties
NI Secretary Paul Murphy is to meet all of the parties
The government has no plan on how to restore Northern Ireland's political institutions Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said.

He was speaking after meeting Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy on the first day of a series of talks with the parties aimed at ending the current political crisis.

The province's power-sharing institutions were suspended on 14 October following a row over allegations of IRA activity, including alleged spying within the Northern Ireland Office.

The government hopes the discussions will pave the way for a review of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and finding a basis on which the institutions could be restored.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness behind
Gerry Adams: "Government must fully implement Agreement"

But Mr Adams said the British Government lacked both a strategy and the urgency required to deal with the crisis.

Mr Adams comments came following a statement by a loyalist lobby group, the Loyalist Commission blaming republicans for the collapse of the political institutions.

The Sinn Fein Presdent said: "This crisis was in many ways compounded by their suspension of the institutions.

"And in my opinion they don't have a plan for putting this together again," he said.

He said Sinn Fein wanted the British and Irish Governments to jointly convene talks between the parties.

"It isn't about trust, it is about the working mechanism and the charter we agreed not being defended, nourished and promoted," he said.

In terms of the demands which had been made on republicans, he said: "The bar has been set very high by unionism, in my view too high."

He said the IRA statement on Wednesday breaking off contact with the arms decommissioning body was "just another indication of the seriousness of the situation".

Mr Adams said he also stressed to the Northern Ireland secretary that the "catalogue of sectarian violence" being directed at nationalist interface areas like Short Strand were unacceptable.

He said it would only take an incident like the death of a child with an improvised loyalist grenade for the situation to deteriorate "to where we don't want to go".

Loyalist statement

Meanwhile, the Loyalist Commission, made up of representatives from the three loyalist paramilitary organisations, the UDA, UVF and Red Hand Commando and Protestant clergy, issued a statement calling on unionist representatives to boycott "the Dublin inspired" Forum for Peace and Reconciliation.

The forum was set up after the 1994 IRA ceasefire by then Taoiseach Albert Reynolds in an attempt to cement the peace process, and there had been recent suggestions to revive it.

UDA mural
Loyalist Commission includes UDA, UVF, RHC and church representatives

The Loyalist Commission also called on the republican movement to use the run-up to Christmas to ease unionist concerns about their future intentions.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Murphy met a delegation from the loyalist Progressive Unionist Party. He is expected to meet all of the other parties over the next few days.

Mr Murphy is using these meetings with the parties as much as a process of getting re-acquainted with the main players, as well as consulting the parties about the forthcoming review of the implementation of the Agreement following suspension.

'Agreement template'

He replaced John Reid as Northern Ireland secretary in a surprise cabinet shuffle move last Thursday.

The Democratic Unionist Party in particular welcomed the replacement of Dr Reid.

The party's deputy leader Peter Robinson said the passing Dr Reid from the province marked the death of the Agreement.

But speaking after his appointment Mr Murphy said the Good Friday Agreement would remain the government's template for the political process in Northern Ireland.

This view has also been repeated by the Irish Government during the last few weeks.

Election on horizon

A review of the implementation of the Agreement is required under the Suspension Order, which requires that terms of reference are set by the two governments in consultation with the parties. There is no time limit on any review.

While Mr Murphy consults the parties in Belfast at Castle Buildings, Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen is expected to hold his own round of talks with the parties.

The two men are due to meet next Wednesday to discuss what they have heard from the parties.

While the parties have all expressed regret at the suspension of Northern Ireland devolution, they also have their sights set on the assembly election scheduled for next May.

BBC NI security editor Brian Rowan:
"The statement from the Loyalist Commission blames the "Provisional republican movement" for the collapse of the institutions"

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See also:

30 Oct 02 | N Ireland
30 Oct 02 | N Ireland
30 Oct 02 | N Ireland
28 Oct 02 | N Ireland
26 Oct 02 | N Ireland
25 Oct 02 | N Ireland
24 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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