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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 06:53 GMT
Taoiseach in NI political talks
Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern will hold talks with Irish foreign minister
Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern is to hold talks with the country's foreign minister on the NI political process.

Dermot Ahern said there would be "a lot of activity" in relation to the political process in the near future.

"We have to prepare the ground. We are up for this and we just hope the political parties in the north are up for it as well," he said.

The impending IMC report on paramilitary activity due later this month would be critical, he added.

This was in terms of "proving beyond all doubt that the IRA have gone", said the minister.

Mr Ahern said he understood that Secretary of State Peter Hain would also be meeting UK Prime Minister Tony Blair this week.

The structures of the Belfast Agreement did not provide good government for the people of Northern Ireland
Iris Robinson

Dermot Ahern said they would be working to make progress by the end of the year.

He said he would be speaking with the Irish premier following a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said politicians must make a genuine effort to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The Sinn Fein president said there were major challenges ahead - particularly for the government and unionists.

In a statement, the DUP MP Iris Robinson said there would be no return to the failed structures of the past.

She said: "The structures of the Belfast Agreement did not provide good government for the people of Northern Ireland."

The SDLP's Sean Farren said the British and Irish governments must restore the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.

"We need to get ourselves on a countdown for restoration," he said.

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