The Taoiseach has said that even after the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis at the weekend, he was not an inch wiser in relation to the republican movement's attitude to criminality, paramilitarism or how to get back to the pre-Christmas position on decommissioning.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin, Bertie Ahern repeated that he is still prepared to meet Sinn Féin to get a comprehensive deal on the peace process.

Meanwhile, Downing Street has said that Sinn Féin's Ard Fheis indicated the party is now starting to deal with criminality within the republican movement.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the Ard Fheis showed the party was now beginning to address what he described as issues of concern to the two governments and the people of Ireland both north and south.

Downing Street said that there must be a complete end to all criminality and paramilitary activity.

During the Ard Fheis Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that an expulsion process would begin against suspended Sinn Féin members if they did not make ‘full and truthful’ statements on the murder of Robert McCartney.

Mr Adams agreed there was unease in his party over his decision to pass information to the Police Ombudsman in connection with Mr McCartney's killing. However, he said there had been no other way to deal with the issue.

In an interview with the RTÉ Radio One’s The Week in Politics programme, Mr Adams said he had been duty-bound to suspend without prejudice Sinn Féin members named by the family.

Meanwhile, the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body has unanimously passed a motion abhorring the murder of Robert McCartney and reaffirming its support for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. 

The motion was passed at a meeting of the body in Bundoran, Co Donegal.

The motion also expressed disappointment at the damage caused to the peace process by recent attacks and ongoing criminality including the Northern Bank raid.