Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Smith TD has stated that the Government has failed to fully engage in seeking to find a solution to the current impasse since the unsuccessful end of the Haass Talks in Northern Ireland at the end of last year. The Government must take a “hands on” approach if this process is to be brought to a successful conclusion. The Irish and British Governments as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement have an obligation to ensure the successful implementation of the commitments of that internationally binding Agreement.
Deputy Smith stated: “This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the announcement of the IRA ceasefire. This week, we recalled the great leadership shown by the late Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds and the risks he was willing to take to achieve peace when in Office.”
“It is time for this Government to refocus its efforts in the North and push for further progress in completing the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and finally agreeing the Haass proposals”.
“There is an opportunity now to complete the work that was begun by Dr Richard Haass and Professor Megan Greene in finalising proposals to deal with the very important matters of parades, flags, identity issues and the past. The Government needs to take a more proactive approach to Northern Ireland. Since this Government took office we have seen a continuous drift in meaningful engagement between the Northern Executive, the British Government and the Government here. Put simply, it appears the North has not been a priority for this Government”.
“As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, any time we have made substantial progress on North-South development, the agenda was driven by the two Governments. That commitment and work gave us the Downing Street Declaration, the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement. I genuinely believe that without the active and leading role being played by both Governments, we will not see the kind of progress that needs to be made for the sake of all of the people on this island”.
“There are other important issues within the remit of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive that need to be progressed without further delay and political parties holding executive office have to represent the interests of all the community and not just their own political base. Unfortunately we have witnessed missed opportunities due to political posturing and the two major parties in the Assembly, the DUP and Sinn Féin, must honour their responsibilities”.
“The full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement will bring additional benefits to all the people of this island and there is an onus on both Governments and the Northern Executive to maximise the potential of further North/South development and also Irish/British relations. The political progress since 1994 must act as a catalyst for further political economic and social development on the island of Ireland”, concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.