Politicians strive for some movement ahead of July 12th

Adams talking to Obama administration while Tánaiste meeting Northern Secretary to explore if political progress can be achieved

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson at Farmleigh following a North South Ministerial Council meeting yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson at Farmleigh following a North South Ministerial Council meeting yesterday. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams went to the US yesterday to brief President Barack Obama’s administration on the political process and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers is meeting Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in Dublin today to discuss how to create fresh political momentum.

Politicians are exploring whether progress can be made before the North’s marching season reaches its most volatile period in July.

First Minister Peter Robinson is expected to engage with this latest tentative process conscious that the Ulster Unionist Party and the Traditional Unionist Voice – both of whom opposed the Richard Haass proposals on parades, flags and the past – performed relatively well in the recent elections.

Welfare reform

Mr Robinson, however, said during the election counts he too wanted to see movement on issues such as parades, flags and the past but he also wanted progress on welfare reform, which Sinn Féin opposes.

Before leaving, Mr Adams said the Government and Taoiseach Enda Kenny “must ensure that the British government faces up to its responsibilities as co-guarantor of the Good Friday agreement”.

He called for the implementation of a Bill of Rights and an Irish language Act for Northern Ireland.

Mr Adams said Washington and Irish America had roles to play in assisting progress. “Martin McGuinness will meet with all political leaders in the North to seek to avail of the small window of opportunity that exists for progress between now and the Orange marching season,” he added.

Ms Villiers said, “An agreement on flags, parading and the past – even in outline – would send a powerful global message about the ability of Northern Ireland’s politicians to find solutions to the most divisive of issues.”