Alliance welcomes Dublin commitment

Alliance Leader David Ford has welcomed the commitment of the Irish Government to a comprehensive review of the Good Friday Agreement before the elections due in May.

Mr Ford led an Alliance delegation to meet Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen today in Belfast. Speaking after the meeting, Mr Ford stated: “We emphasised to Mr Cowen that there was an urgent need for inclusive, multi-party talks to deal with all the current difficulties in the peace process. This is not simply about the relationship between the UUP and Sinn Fein.

“We stressed the urgent need for an early round table meeting of all the pro-Agreement parties with the two governments in Belfast and confirmed Alliance’s commitment to engage with all the other parties in whatever form of talks seems most constructive.

“We questioned Mr Cowen on his Government’s announcement on the reconvening of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. Alliance made it clear that if the Forum is to meet again, it can only be as an adjunct to the talks process at Stormont. The Forum may be the place to air issues, but it is not the place for formal negotiation.

“While there may be some benefits in involving other Dail parties, a meeting of the Forum would merely be a distraction if Stormont talks were not already under way.

“I welcome the commitment that the Minister gave us that he sees the Forum as subsidiary to any review of the Agreement and not in any sense a replacement of it.”

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