Fianna Fáil Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Brendan Smith TD has welcomed the beginning of talks in Northern Ireland on identity and the past, under the chairmanship of Richard Haass and has offered the party’s support for the process.
Deputy Smith commented, “Fianna Fáil has been critical of the failure of the political establishment in Northern Ireland to properly engage with the issue of the past and the tendency to fall back on the politics of parades and protest when it suits. For this reason we strongly welcome the establishment of this process and wish all parties involved every support.
“It is a source of regret that the Irish Government will not be officially involved in this process. This is the first time in decades that Ireland is not a player in important talks on the future of the North and we in Fianna Fáil believe this is a retrograde step.
“Unfortunately, Ireland being peripheral in this process and becoming increasingly irrelevant in the North is a natural outworking of the stand-off approach that we have seen from Eamon Gilmore and his Government. We have repeatedly pointed out that taking progress in Northern Ireland for granted is a strategic mistake, but these concerns have been ignored or dismissed by the Tánaiste.
“However, Richard Haass begins this process with Fianna Fáil’s strong support and we offer every encouragement to all the parties taking part. For our part, we look forward to making a full submission to Ambassador Haass.”