Ahern in contact with Blair to avert NI crisis


The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, will speak again to British Prime Minister, Mr Blair, by telephone tomorrow to continue efforts to avert a crisis in the North. The two men spoke by telephone yesterday morning and tomorrow's call will review progress.

Irish officials are due to travel to Belfast for meetings today - there was also contact over the weekend. Mr Ahern said yesterday there had been no breakthrough and a lot of difficulties still existed. He said efforts would continue over the next few days and over the Christmas period.

It was difficult, he said, to make substantial progress but the subjects at issue, the Patten Commission on Policing, demilitarisation and decommissioning, were known and efforts at finding a solution would just have to continue.

The Sinn Fein leader, Mr Gerry Adams, last night said the Irish Government should take the British government to court for breaching the Belfast Agreement.

At a civic reception in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Mr Adams said: "The fact is that the Good Friday agreement is not the `Northern Ireland' Good Friday agreement.

"It is an all-Ireland agreement voted for by people throughout the island.

"The Good Friday agreement is also an international treaty signed by the British and Irish Governments. It therefore has a legal status in international law - a status that demands action by both governments on David Trimble's current discriminatory ban on the two Sinn Fein ministers attending meetings of the All-Ireland Ministerial Council.

"I am calling upon the Irish Government to bring the British government before the International Court of Justice for its breach of the Good Friday agreement."