Monday, February 20, 2006


NI talks collapse at first hurdle

Another farce grips the 6 countiesOh dear.

The BBC reports that plans for round-table talks by the North's political parties at Stormont have collapsed amid acrimony.

The plan was to have the DUP, SDLP, UUP and Alliance at one session of talks on Monday, without Sinn Fein.

This would have been followed by a second round in which Sinn Fein replaced the DUP - who have refused to sit down with the republican party.

However, Sinn Fein angily rejected the plan. SF leader Gerry Adams accused the government of "pandering to the DUP".

At a news conference on Monday, he said the government was "naive".

Mr Adams said his party found the plan to have separate meetings "totally unacceptable". It proved that Ian Paisley, not the governments, was in charge of the talks he said.

The row followed a series of meetings between NI Secretary Peter Hain, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern and local parties at Stormont.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Hain said people needed to realise that both governments were "for real" in securing political progress.

"We tried a particular formula and that didn't work," he said.

"Nobody would have been excluded, there were parallel meetings consecutively on the same issues with all the parties.

"We decided there was no point in proceeding since they were not all-party discussions as we had intended."

Earlier on Monday, Mr Hain set a deadline of 8 March for the parties to agree amendments to new legislation on the assembly and other issues.

He said he was aiming for progress in the spring to see the assembly reopen.

It means that the parties have less than a month to agree changes to new legislation on the assembly and other matters.

The British and Irish governments are stepping up pressure on the parties to compromise and restore the assembly, which was suspended in October 2003 following allegations of a republican spy ring at the Northern Ireland Office.

Oh boy. It doesn't rain, it pours!

I have to say that I can see Sinn Féin's point on this. Why would they be excluded from the first round of talks? The governments need to get real and stop these childish games. They are pandering to the DUP and allowing them to turn the talks into a farce.

Hear everybody out and let everybody have a say. Stop the nonsense!


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