PD leader calls on IRA to restore ceasefire
The following is an edited version of the statement to the Dail by the PD leader, Ms Mary Harney on the communique.
I WHOLEHEARTEDLY welcome today's communique and commend the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste, and the British Prime Minister, and their various advisers, for creating this sensitive and balanced formula for reviving the peace process.
The announcement of the fixed date of June 10th for the commencement of all party talks is the heart of the matter. It has now been made very clear that the ceasefire must be reinstated, and made secure, before Sinn Fein can be admitted to these talks. The ceasefire is the least that can be expected in a civilised, democratic society.
We will never have a real solution to the difficulties in Northern Ireland Until the people of both communities start to cross the fences of hatred and misunderstanding that have divided them for generations.
Accordingly, I call on the republican movement to do more than call a ceasefire the time is now surely right for Sinn Fein to declare its unequivocal acceptance of the democratic process and to renounce violence as a means of achieving its political goals.
History will not easily forgive the republican movement if it fails to grasp the opportunity it has been afforded today.
It is one thing for the two governments to convene all party talks on June 10th, but the merit and the potential of that exercise will quickly vanish if any of the parties feel that the shadow of the gun or the echo of a Semtex bomb, hangs over the proceedings.
I have repeatedly argued, notably at the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, that in the wake of 25 years of murder, mayhem and violence, it would take a considerable time to heal the wound and to sow and nurture the seeds of mutual trust between the protagonists in Northern Ireland.
However, while that is the case, I am in no doubt that certain elements showed a disquieting reluctance to build on the respite of the ceasefires to ensure that the fragile peace process was consolidated in the form of a lasting, fair and balanced political settlement.
It is not at all clear from the communique, however, that the restoration of the ceasefire is essential before commencement of all party talks on June 10th.
Paragraph 7 states that the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach agreed that an elective process would have to be broadly acceptable and would lead immediately and without further preconditions to the convening of all party negotiations,
Earlier in the document, at Paragraph 5, it states that both governments are agreed that the resumption of ministerial dialogue with Sinn Fein and their participation in negotiations requires the restoration of the ceasefire of August, 1994.
I call on the Taoiseach to clarify this matter immediately.