Spring outlines efforts to begin all party talks


THE Government has been working intensively over the past 18 months to bring about all party negotiations, the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs told the Seanad.

Mr Spring, who was concluding statements on the North, said their progress may have been uneven and slow, but it was real.

The Government had continued to work intensively with the British government to put together a package of options which would allow for early and guaranteed movement into all party negotiations.

"Irrespective of the views or actions of the IRA, negotiations are required at the earliest possible moment. We need to have a specific date on which they will begin because further procrastination on any side is simply unacceptable".

If all party talks lead to a renewal of the ceasefire, it will be immensely helpful and will also assist in the likely success of the negotiations he said.

Earlier the Tanaiste said that tourism is one vital area of the economy that will be affected by the end of the ceasefire. He said he, was heartened by the determination that investment plans will not be blown off course by the return to violence by the IRA.

The public response to the end of the ceasefire showed the widespread hunger for peace.

The responsibility of restoring the ceasefire lay with the IRA.

Mr Brendan Daly (FF) said the restraint showed by Mr Gary McMichael of the UDP should be reflected by the Ulster Unionist Party and especially by Mr David Trimble. While some saw Mr Trimble's election as a retrograde step, Mr Daly said he believed the leader of the UUP had the courage and leadership to chart a new course.