The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, has said that the peace process will fail if any of the parties are forced to do anything against their wishes. Mr Ahern warned against "unduly straining" the negotiating position of the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.
The Taoiseach was speaking at the Irish Embassy in London, where he stopped off briefly before going to meet with the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The two men will attend the FA Cup Final at Wembley this afternoon and will resume their discussions at the Prime Minister's country residence, Chequers, this evening. There they will have an opportunity to assess where to go next with the peace process following the Ulster Unionist's cool response to the latest set of proposals designed to break the deadlock on decommissioning. The Taoiseach said that David Trimble has not rejected the proposals outright, but that he had asked for clarification on some issues.
Mr Ahern also announced a £1.2 million cash injection for projects promoting reconciliation between Ireland, north and south and Britain. Over half the money will go towards schemes working to improve relations between Britain and Ireland and projects to help the Irish community in Britain. Over £400,000 is to be spent on housing elderly or homeless Irish people in Britain, developing community centres and providing advice and assistance for young Irish emigrants.