David Ford, Alliance Leader, has called on the two Governments to urgently address the gaps which are now becoming apparent in the ‘comprehensive agreement’ paper.
David Ford said:
“Detailed study of the annexes to the paper from the two Governments shows a number of worrying gaps in the proposals.
“In particular, it is far from clear whether the IRA fully accept the need to satisfy paragraph 13 of the Governments’ joint declaration of 2003. That made it clear that there must be an end to all paramilitary activity, including organisation, intelligence activities and street violence.
“At the Waterfront Hall, Mr Blair went to great lengths to assure us all that this was the case, and he quoted from his ‘Acts of Completion’ speech to set the tone. However, the proposed language of the IRA statement is well short of this.
“Alliance believes that any statement by the IRA must be absolutely clear that all paramilitary activity is at an end. We have always said that it is up to the IRA, not unionists, to choose their words, but it is absolutely vital that their words must be clear and unambiguous.
“That was why Alliance proposed the setting up of the IMC, which has a vital role to assess behaviour and will have a continuing role to monitor this for some time in the future.
“Two years ago, the Prime Minister called for acts of completion. It appears that neither the DUP nor the British Government have actually focused on this over months of negotiation. Both have been sidetracked on the issue of photos of decommissioning.
“Alliance has no intention of being sidetracked onto this issue by the two Governments.
“Of course, decommissioning is important as an act of good faith, but the total end to all paramilitary violence is the prize that Alliance seeks.
“I don’t think the people of Northern Ireland will be satisfied with the draft IRA statement that appears to satisfy the Prime Minister. It is time that Mr Blair stuck to the principles of his own Joint Declaration.”