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Friday, 9 March, 2001, 13:27 GMT

Conservative Party: The peace process

Find out more about the Conservative Party's policies on the Northern Ireland peace process.

The party's full title remains the Conservative and Unionist Party, reflecting its commitment to the Union of England with Scotland and Wales, as well as with Northern Ireland.

As such, its sympathies have in broad terms always lain with the unionist cause in the province - in so far as it favours maintaining Northern Ireland's position within the UK.

But the party says under its previous leader and prime minister John Major it began the peace process by signalling the willingness to engage all sides in negotiations, should violence end.

Throughout the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement and the implementation of the deal, the party has sought to follow a generally bi-partisan approach.

Prisoner release

As such, the party backed - and continues to back - the Good Friday Agreement, though it accepts that there are many within its own party who have grave reservations about its direction.

The Conservatives have also criticised some of the ways that Labour in government implemented its side of the deal.

The party said that it believed Labour was wrong to continue with paramilitary prisoner releases without any arms decommissioning taking place.

Conservatives have also criticised some of the policing reforms in Northern Ireland, particularly those relating to the changing of the force's name and symbols.

It has also voiced concern that former terrorists, or those associated with paramilitary groups which have not decommissioned arms, may be able to sit on the new force's policing board.

The party opposes any "rash" scaling down of the security apparatus in Northern Ireland, warning that nothing should be done to lessen security for ordinary people in the "vain hope" that it will encourage paramilitary decommissioning.



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