SF calls for restoration of powersharing in North


Martin McGuinness has called on the Irish and British governments to honour the Belfast Agreement and to restore powersharing in the North.

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator made his comments after the Taoiseach indicated it was possible that the Assembly might be set up without the Executive.

Mr McGuinness said he believed it possible to "collectively deliver a fully functioning Assembly and Executive."

However, he said that for this to happen, the Governments would "need to stand firmly behind the Good Friday Agreement."

"I look forward to seeing the proposals being put together by the two Governments.

Outlining the way forward for the peace process, the Mid Ulster MP said: "In our discussions with the two Governments we have made it crystal clear that progress had to be made in the immediate period.

"This means the lifting of suspension and a determined effort to establish a fully functioning Executive."

Mr McGuinness also claimed the Governments should stop pandering to the DUP. He said: "It is clear that big decisions now lie ahead for Ian Paisley and his party.

"All of the other parties and the two Governments have stated that they wish to see the political institutions put back in place.

"The DUP remain isolated as the only party who continue to oppose progress." "Well, obviously if we don't get agreement on the Executive you can't have an Executive.

"But that shouldn't stop the Assembly operating for a period of time while there is work for it to do and that could take a few months," Mr Ahern said.

Both Sinn Féin and the SDLP oppose the concept of setting up a shadow assembly in advance of restoring the powersharing executive but the move is favoured by the DUP.

In an interview with the BBC's Politics Show, Mr Ahern said there would be safeguards to prevent this period without an Executive being dragged out.

Mr Ahern said he and British prime minister Tony Blair did not intend to go through another year with the Assembly still suspended. "I think the difficulty for the Prime Minister and I, is that it's eight years on.

"It's last summer since we got the IRA's statement, which I think that most people thought we'd never get. "The arms issue was dealt with in the early autumn so we are heading quickly towards another summer."

Mr Ahern said he believed that all the obstacles to powersharing had been removed and it was just a matter of working out how to restore it.

"Politicians all over the world like to be in power and I am sure in Northern Ireland it is no different, they want to deal with the everyday issues, what's known all over the world as the bread and butter issues - to deal with education, local government and health."