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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
IRA statement 'must mean clarity'
Mr Ahern said there was sensitivity over marching season
Mr Ahern said there was sensitivity over marching season
It is important any IRA statement brings clarity to ending paramilitarism and criminality for devolution to be restored, Bertie Ahern has said.

The Irish prime minister denied he has had secret meetings with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams in recent weeks.

He described their talks as private and said he had private discussions with many people in Northern Ireland.

Mr Ahern is expected to hold separate talks with the DUP and Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Mr Ahern told the Irish parliament: "I've had no secret meetings with Gerry Adams.

"Despite all the difficulties, I made it absolutely clear in this House that we would be maintaining dialogue with Sinn Fein and we continued to do that. My meetings were consistent with that."

He added: "These meetings were better conducted outside the glare of publicity.

"You don't have to hold a press conference every time you have a meeting, particularly if all you're saying is we're awaiting the (IRA) consultative process."

'Stop interfering'

The Taoiseach also warned of the huge sensitivities surrounding this year's marching season in Northern Ireland.

He described Derry as a particularly sensitive area, where he said the Orange Order was planning a large gathering while still refusing to meet with local residents, unlike the Apprentice Boys.

Mr Ahern added that Northern Ireland was moving into a very difficult period between now and mid-July.

However, an Orange Order spokesman said: "Bertie Ahern should confine his comments to his own country and stop interfering here."

The spokesman pointed out that at a special Grand Lodge meeting in February, it was again confirmed that any Orangeman can engage with a residents' group providing that it is a genuine residents' group.

He added that Orangemen should not be talking to Sinn Fein.


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SEE ALSO:
Minister calls for IRA to disband
09 Apr 05 |  Northern Ireland
IRA 'has started internal debate'
26 Apr 05 |  Northern Ireland


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