Dáil Éireann - Volume 622 - 29 June, 2006
Written Answers. - Northern Ireland Issues.
Ms McManus Ms McManus
Ms McManus asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the latest timetable for the full re-establishment of the Assembly and the Executive in Northern Ireland; the latest meetings he has had with political parties in the North and with the British Government; when he expects to travel to Northern Ireland for his next round of engagements; the plans the two Governments have for the period immediately following the summer 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25265/06]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Mr. D. Ahern: When the Taoiseach and Prime Minister Blair met at Farmleigh on 26 January, they said that 2006 would be the decisive year for the peace process. On 6 April in Armagh, they set out the Governments’ joint strategy for achieving a fully functioning Assembly and Executive this year, announcing that the Assembly would meet from 15 May and that Members would be given until 24 November, at the latest, to form an Executive.
In pursuit of this objective, the Taoiseach and I have been engaged in intensive efforts, in conjunction with the British Government, to bring about fully functioning devolved institutions in Northern Ireland. Throughout this period, I have maintained close ongoing contact with Secretary of State Hain and with the political parties in Northern Ireland. Peter Hain and I met in Dublin on 2 May where we jointly chaired the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference; in London on 2 June at the British-Irish Council Summit and, most recently, in Hillsborough earlier this week on 26 June.
For the first time in over three years, Assembly Members have been engaging with each over the past few weeks at Stormont. I am accompanying the Taoiseach to Stormont today, where the two Governments will meet with all of the parties to  take stock of developments, discuss the issues to be addressed and the timeframe for doing so.
We will be stressing that the deadline of 24th November is a firm one and that genuine and frank political engagement between the parties is crucial to addressing any obstacles to power-sharing and making the necessary preparations for government. The parties will need to make good use of the short time available to them so that important decisions affecting the lives of every section of the community can be taken by locally elected politicians. If, despite best efforts, this cannot be achieved, then it would fall to the two Governments to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is implemented to the fullest possible extent for the benefit of all communities.
Providing all sides are truly committed to working together, I sincerely believe there is no reason why Northern Ireland should not have a First and Deputy First Minister and a power-sharing administration by that date. I hope that parties will continue their discussions over the summer so that the Assembly can quickly conclude work on outstanding issues and finalise their preparations for government in the autumn.
The Government will continue to offer full support to the parties over the coming months, as we have done throughout this process. Secretary of State Hain and I will have an early opportunity to take stock of progress when we meet next month at the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 22.
Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 45.
Dáil Éireann 622 Written Answers. Northern Ireland Issues.