Gilmore says intervention by Irish, British governments on NI talks possible

Monday 20 January 2014 12.57
Eamon Gilmore said intervention possible if no deal reached in Northern Ireland
Eamon Gilmore said intervention possible if no deal reached in Northern Ireland

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has indicated that the Irish and British governments will intervene if political parties in Northern Ireland fail to reach agreement on proposals to deal with flags, parades and the past.

Talks chaired by US diplomat Richard Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan ended on New Year's Eve without a deal.

Mr Gilmore told the BBC's Sunday politics programme that both governments will intervene if needed.

"We are agreed that this is something that both governments will work together on if necessary," he said.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the Government should push the British government to meet its obligations on the Good Friday Agreement.

SDLP Leader Alasdair McDonnell welcomed Mr Gilmore's comments, which he said showed a commitment on behalf of the Government.

Mr McDonnell said the Haass proposals present "an opportunity to do the final lap of the Good Friday Agreement", and provide stability and prosperity for the people and future of Northern Ireland.

He said: "Our belief and preference is that implementation should come from the five parties locally but, if that can only happen through joint intervention from both governments then, so be it."

However, Ulster Unionist party leader Mike Nesbitt described Mr Gilmore's comments as "not particularly helpful".

Mr Nesbitt indicated that it would not be appropriate for the Irish Government to get involved in internal Northern Ireland issues.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Government of neglecting Northern Ireland since coming to power.

Speaking to RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta during his visit to Gaoth Dobhair in Donegal earlier, Mr Martin said he is very disappointed with the lack of commitment being shown.

He was scathing of the Government for not engaging with the British government on the drafting of last year's Northern Ireland economic plan, and claimed Fianna Fáil would have always engaged with the British government on such matters.

Mr Martin said the Government should engage fully with the Northern Assembly and the British government.

In a detailed interview with Colm Ó Dúlacháin, for the Barrscéalta programme on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta tomorrow, Mr Martin said the lack of engagement on the Narrow Water Bridge Project was yet another indication of the lack of commitment being shown by the Government in relation to affairs in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the British government has insisted there will be no question of imposing unwanted solutions on political leaders in Northern Ireland.

The parties remain at loggerheads on the three divisive issues despite a bid by Dr Haass to strike an agreement.

While Sinn Féin and the SDLP have endorsed a draft deal produced by Dr Haass, the Democratic Unionists, Ulster Unionists and the cross community Alliance party have all expressed concern about elements of the proposals.

The leaders of the five parties are due to meet in Belfast on Tuesday in a bid to break the deadlock.