Spring seeks £500,000 to cover all party talks costs


THE Tanaiste has requested a supplementary estimate of £500,000 to cover the Department of Foreign Affairs' costs arising from involvement in the planned all party talks in Northern Ireland.

Speaking to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr Spring said key issues on the talks had yet to be decided including chairmanship of Strand Two "The two governments are consulting with one another and with the parties with a view to reaching agreement on a suitable candidate."

"It is obvious that the prospects for success in the negotiations would be greatly enhanced by the presence of Sinn Fein." But if the IRA failed to restore its ceasefire, Sinn Fein would not be at the talks and the republican viewpoint would not be represented.

"This would plainly contradict the logic of Sinn Fein's own political analysis [that all party talks without preconditions are necessary]. The single step of an unequivocal restoration of the ceasefire would permit the entry of Sinn Fein to negotiations without further preconditions.

"The Taoiseach and I have publicly sought to address, in a comprehensive and detailed fashion, all of the issues on which republicans might reasonably look for clarification. We have made clear our determination to ensure that the negotiations will be serious and meaningful, and our conviction that the conditions are now right for such negotiations.

"It is important that all others with a central role to play equally make clear their genuine commitment to the success of the negotiations, irrespective of the very many difficult questions, including decommissioning, which will arise in them.